Yes you are right, I do not understand much of the US domestic tug market, or the logic of it all, but I’m learning from being on this forum.
When I was “young and dumb” I did ship and boat deliveries through my own company in Singapore.
That involved sailing anything that would float, but wasn’t meant to cross oceans, (Ferries, LCTs, Scrap ships and indeed tugs) with a minimum of navigation equipment that I could carry as hand luggage.
I took on a contract to deliver three newbuilt Harbour tugs from Singapore to East Africa, (2 to Dar es Salaam and one to Mombasa) a distance of over 4300 n.miles.
These were typical Japanese style, built by Hitachi in Singapore from kits supplied from Japan and looked something like! this:
The first one I decided to sail myself to “maximize profit”. Unfortunately I got involved a little late, so the fixed ballast had been installed. All void tanks had been cement washed, so extra fuel was carried in drums on deck.
In the Bay of Bengal we got caught in a storm and I’m glad the wheelhouse wasn’t 50 ft. in the air. I have never, before or since, seen such short roll period. You needed both hands just to hang on, making it impossible to even attempt getting a sun shot.
When I saw a tanker close to us I called them on VHF to get a position. He was wondering what ship I was, since he couldn’t see any. When I gave them the relative bearing he was able to see us when on top of the waves, otherwise we were gone.
The conversation went something like this;
What the he*l are you doing out here and where are you bound?
Tanzanian flag tug Papa, bound for Dar es Salaam.
Are you nuts?
Thanks for your position, Over and out.
I could kind of imagine what it would have been like if I was on the tug Chesapeake Coast.
PS> I hire a Skipper to sail the other two.