Cook Inlet Tug and Barge has been in the Alaska transportation business since 1952, but the tractor tug Stellar Wind is a very modern vessel, built in 1992. Although primarily a ship-docking tug, Stellar Wind has a tow winch aft, as well as a hawser winch forward.
The Anchorage end of Cook Inlet can be a difficulty body of water to navigate, as there is a 39-foot tide, six months of winter, and ice up to four feet thick.
"By the end of the season, the hulls on our boats look like they've been sand blasted down to bare metal," says owner Carl Anderson.
But the Stellar Wind has been creatively designed to cope well with its environment. Heavy docking skegs protect the Z-drives and provide stability when the water runs away from the tug, and 5/8-inch steel plate on the sides and a 1/2-inch plate on the bottom help protect her from the ice.