The latest in a string of vessels named for famous racehorses was put into service recently after four months of refurbishment. The newly named mv. Native Dancer, completely redone, appeared in New Orleans harbor after being “trotted out” of the shipyard by its owner, Turn Services, on February 17.

The boat was originally the James E. Philpott, built in 1975 by Grafton Boat Company for American Commercial Lines. Turn Services bought it in 2013 and after operating it for a while, decided to recondition it.

The boat measures 80 by 30 feet with an 8-1/2-foot draft. Shipyard workers at AEP Elmwood, which received the boat November 2014, stripped the entire vessel down to bare metal, replaced steel where necessary, and blasted and coated the rest, including the fuel and water tanks. Eagle Electric of Baton Rouge installed new wiring. Its sister company, Eagle Construction, installed the new interior.

“We reconfigured the living quarters,” said Brad Chauvin, Turn Services’ vice president of vessel operations, “so that the first deck now has two rooms for a total of four crewmen and a shared bathroom.
Then, we expanded the texas deck to include a captain’s lounge.”

Special attention was paid to the pilothouse, which was completely redesigned and equipped with the latest electronics from Sea-Trac Offshore, Chauvin said.

Turn Services replaced the twin GM 16V-149 diesels with Cummins KTA38-M1 units, effectively upping the horsepowerfrom 1,800 to 2,000. Reduction is Twin Disc 7:1. The wheels are 80 by 65 inches. The company also installed new Cummins QSB7 generators with 99 kw. each, and added new Simplex shaft seals, three- and fi ve-ton air conditioning and heating units, a touchscreen alarm system from Eagle Control, and Schuyler bumpers.

Turn Services initially named its boats after Triple Crown champions, but as the number of boats grew, they ran out of winners, and are now using horses that “are proven winners and show great heart,” said Dawn Lopez, director of marketing.

“To name this boat,” she said, “we let our employees choose between four horses. Native Dancer won by a landslide.” During his three years of racing, Native Dancer won 21 out of 22 starts and was one of the most celebrated thoroughbred racehorses in history.

The mv. Native Dancer joins 20 towboats and seven crew boats in Turn Services’ fleet, providing inland marine services at four full-service fleets on the Lower Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to Myrtle Grove as well on the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.

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