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Parker Towing Company Christens Mv. Johnny E. Holt

Posted on May 15, 2024

Johnny Holt has been part of Tuscaloosa, Ala.-based Parker Towing Company nearly 36 years. Holt’s first day on the job was July 15, 1988, and he started out as a deckhand aboard the company’s original mv. Alice Parker.

Holt had been working as a painter, but at his father-in-law’s suggestion, he decided to give the maritime industry a shot. Turns out, Holt had a rough first day.

“I fell in the river trying to catch a line,” he said during an August 2020 interview with The Waterways Journal, “and the wheel wash sent me downriver.”

Holt said he thought about calling it quits after that first day, but instead, he resolved to stay, buttressed by the example of both his father-in-law, Bill Archie, captain aboard Parker Towing’s mv. Heloise, and his own father.

“That’s how I was raised,” Holt said during the 2020 interview. “You get with a company you like, and you stick with them. You cannot beat the Parkers. I’ve worked with them all these years, and you just can’t beat them.”

Over the years, Holt has worked as a vessel crew member, as a welder for the company and in the engineering department, where he started in 1996. In the early 2000s, he was promoted to senior port engineer. In that role, Holt directly oversees about a dozen vessel engineers, while also working alongside the company’s other port engineers.

Holt said he found out about his namesake vessel just over a year ago from Chas Haun, executive vice president of Parker Towing Company.

“Chas texted me and said, ‘Call me,’ and I said, “Oh gosh, what did I do?’” Holt said. “It really surprised me.”

Holt had the opportunity to drive up to Serodino Inc.’s shipyard in Chattanooga, Tenn., while the mv. Johnny E. Holt was still under construction. What’s more, as a gifted welder himself, Holt actually got to do a little work on his namesake vessel.

Johnny Holt, namesake of new vessel.

“I welded my name onto the side of it,” he said, eyes smiling through his sunglasses.

Serodino delivered the mv. Johnny E. Holt last year, and Parker Towing Company hosted a formal christening ceremony for the vessel May 2 at the company’s Port of Decatur, Ala., terminal.

“This is really a celebration of Johnny and his family and everything he has done for the company,” said Tim Parker, president and CEO of Parker Towing Company. “He’s committed his life to this company, so we’re here today to celebrate that.”

Parker went on to acknowledge Holt’s critical work for the company, which boils down to simply ensuring the company’s boats remain on the job.

“He has dedicated his career to being on the boats and keeping our boats running and working, which may not always have been real easy,” Parker said. “We are so fortunate to be able to name this boat after him, and we’re excited to do that.”

While recognizing Holt, Parker also described the strategic harbor where the mv. Johnny E. Holt works.

“We’re at the Port of Decatur at Mile 304 on the Tennessee River, and for those that don’t know, this is a major hub of economic activity for the state,” Parker said.

From chemical plants and steel mills to grain facilities, the Port of Decatur handles it all, with the mv. Johnny E. Holt serving the entire harbor.

“The Johnny Holt—the boat—will be serving those industries, taking the raw materials into these facilities and bringing finished products out,” Parker said.

The Johnny E. Holt and the entire Decatur working riverfront is just one part of what Parker described as the most fuel-efficient, safest and most environmentally friendly mode of transportation in the United States.

“This is something we’re proud to be part of, and we’re proud to introduce this new boat to this area,” Parker said. “It’s more fuel-efficient, it’s safer, and it’s certainly more reliable than we’ve ever had here.”

Connie Holt, wife of Johnny Holt (left), Parker Towing Company’s senior port engineer, christens the mv. Johnny E Holt at the Port of Decatur, Ala.

The mv. Johnny E. Holt, a Super Tiger Class towboat from Serodino with design verification by SeaCraft Design, features a pair of Cummins QSK-19M main engines, mated to Twin Disc MGX5222DC gears (4:03:1), that produce a total of 1,500 hp. at 1,800 rpm. The vessel has Simplan dripless shaft seals and 54- by 45-inch four-blade propellers from Michigan Wheel. Ship service power comes from a pair of 40 kw. John Deere 4045FM75A generators from Marathon.

Fernstrum supplied the keel coolers aboard the Johnny E. Holt. Engine alarms are by Murphy, and Skipper Engineered Products supplied the vessel’s steering system controls. Steering system hardware is by Robbins & Bohr.

The Johnny E. Holt measures 60 by 24 feet, with a depth of 8 feet and a draft of 6.5 feet. Tankage includes 9,850 gallons of fuel across three tanks, 4,480 gallons of water across three tanks, 113 gallons of hydraulic fluid, 88 gallons each of engine oil and gear oil, and 114 gallons for slop oil.

Beneath  its texas deck, the Johnny E. Holt is equipped with a pair of Wintech 40-ton deck winches. Fendering is by Schuyler Marine. The vessel also features Furuno radar equipment.

During the christening ceremony, Alison Phillips, director of communications at Parker Towing Company, presented Holt with a commemorative boat clock. Then, the Rev. Chase Ackerman, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Decatur, presented a Bible to Al Kirschbaum, captain aboard the Johnny E. Holt, and offered a prayer for the crew, vessel and its namesake.

“Thank you for the life and work of Johnny Holt,” Ackerman said. “We ask your blessing upon him and Connie as they continue to serve you through their words and through their actions. We give you thanks for those who built this vessel, for those who designed and installed her equipment. We pray especially for the captain and crew, for all who will run and maintain her.”

After that, Holt and his wife, Connie, along with their family, climbed aboard the mv. Johnny E. Holt, with Connie breaking a bottle of champagne over the railing just aft of the vessel’s port-side push knee.

Caption for top photo: The mv. Johnny E Holt moored at the Port of Decatur, Ala., May 2 prior to its christening ceremony.


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