Michael Moran, 17 years old, arrives from Ireland. Seeking opportunity in the New World, he and his family settle in Frankfort, NY. Michael finds work as a mule skinner pulling barges on the recently opened Erie Canal.
Michael leaves the Erie Canal for the bustling activity of New York City and opens a towing agency business at 14 South Street. Michael works relentlessly, hustling for business and gaining a reputation for honesty and sincerity.
Recognizing the business opportunities of marine towing in the flourishing New York area, Michael invests his hard-earned savings of $2,700 to purchase a half interest in the steam tug, Ida Miller.
Michael builds his first tug, the Maggie Moran, named for his wife. She is steam powered with a 150 horsepower engine, is 70 feet long and costs $6,000. This is the first time the Moran name is used on a vessel and the first time the white block ‘M’ is put on a vessel’s smoke stack. The iconic “M” becomes widely recognized in ports all over the US Eastern and Gulf coasts.
During the Spanish American War, Moran tugs begin working for the US Government serving as messenger boats between Florida and the US Naval fleet stationed off Cuba. Moran tugs in New York Harbor also assist government troop and cargo ships in support of the war effort. At the conclusion of the war, Moran tugs tow barges containing the Army’s Calvary horses back to their mainland base at Montauk, Long Island, NY.
Moran undertakes its first long distance tow, moving a petroleum barge from New York, around Cape Horn, to San Francisco covering 13,220 mile over 72 days.
Michael dies and is succeeded by his son Eugene. The Company moves from South Street to 17 Battery Pace where it remains until the company moves again to the North Tower of the newly built World Trade Center in 1972. Eugene becomes a significant builder not only of the Company but also of the Port of New York, where he serves as a Port Authority Commissioner.
Eugene Moran is appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt to serve as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and he takes leave from the Company. Under Eugene’s direction, a special committee is formed to purchase, arm and repaint a fleet of vessels. These are sent to the French and English who urgently need patrol boats.
Eugene’s nephew Edmond replaces him at Moran. Edmond subsequently takes his own leave from the Company in order to serve in the US Navy during World War 1.
Moran converts its first tug, the Eugenia Moran, to diesel electric power. The Company’s growth mirrors the dramatic development of the Port of New York as the newly opened Panama Canal drives feverish activity in the region.
The age of diesel is now in full swing. Moran builds its first diesel electric tug, the 600 h.p., Marie Moran.
Moran adds to its diesel fleet by building 6 additional diesel tugs of 1,300 h.p
After 34 years Eugene turns over the leadership to his nephew Edmond Moran. The tug Edmond is built that year in Beaumont Texas. She is the first American tug capable of crossing the Atlantic without refueling. She is 1,900 h.p. and carries 52,000 of diesel fuel. The Edmond goes on to have a distinguished military service career during the World War II.
Edmond is recalled to active Navy duty and Eugene returns to manage the company.
Edmond is assigned to organize building, transporting and placing the artificial harbors in Normandy, France which are vital to the execution of the D Day invasion. These artificial harbors enable the US troops to unload heavy equipment and personnel onto the Normandy beaches.
Moran operates 53 large ocean-going tugs for the US Navy in support of the war effort.
Edmond retires from active duty as a Rear Admiral and returns to leadership at Moran.
Moran expands its footprint in the New York harbor during this period, acquiring the EE Barrett Co in 1949, the Olsen Water and Towing Co. in 1950, the Meseck Towing Co. in 1954, the Dauntless Towing line in 1955 and the Amboy Towing Company in 1956.
Moran begins its growth outside of the Port of New York by acquiring the Central Wharf Towboat Company of Portland, Maine in 1951. In 1956 Moran again expands outside the New York Harbor, acquiring the Curtis Bay Towing Company with operations in Baltimore, Norfolk and Philadelphia. Moran continues its expansion in 1958 with the acquisition of the Portsmouth Navigation Company, of Portsmouth, N.H. In 1964 the D.M Picton Company of Port Arthur, Texas joins the Moran fleet.
Edmond’s oldest son Thomas joins the Company as President. He begins developing the company’s presence in the marine transportation segment of the industry. Under his leadership, Moran constructs a barge and tug barge fleet and builds a substantial business transporting liquid and dry bulk cargoes.
The Company builds and operates the first US flag LNG barge, Massachusetts in 1973. And, in 1976 Moran acquires the Florida Towing Company of Jacksonville, Florida.
The Moran headquarters relocates from the World Trade Center in New York City to Greenwich, CT.
Tom Moran steps down as Moran’s President but remains the company’s Chairman and CEO. Malcolm MacLeod, who started with Moran in 1954 as a mess boy, is named as President. Three years later in 1990, Malcolm becomes Moran’s CEO.
Moran expands to Miami, Florida
Moran is acquired by James Barker and Paul Tregurtha, long time business partners with extensive experience in the marine transportation industry. Barker and Tregurtha had been Tom Moran’s friends and neighbors for many years. Paul Tregurtha serves as Moran’s Chairman and later becomes Moran’s CEO in 1998.
Barker and Tregurtha are already owners of the Interlake Steamship Company located on the US Great Lakes. Their partnership would later grow to include Moran as well as Seastreak, a high-speed ferry service launched in 2008 to serve the New York City metropolitan area
Moran continues to expand geographically by acquiring Turecamo Maritime and several other Turecamo affiliated companies. Moran is now active in 14 US ports, including Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia
Moran forms a joint venture known as MER or Moran Environmental Recovery, to provide environmental recovery and diving services across the U.S.
Moran begins construction of a series of new, more powerful Z drive tractor tugs that enable Moran to expand beyond traditional towage services. Building on its long relationship with the US Navy, these stern drive tugs are designed in cooperation with the US Navy to assist warships in Norfolk, VA. Moran continues to steadily add additional Z drive tugs to its fleet over the coming years.
Paul’s son Edward (Ted) Tregurtha is named as Moran’s President in 2001, after joining the company in 1996 and working across a wide range of business functions including finance, information systems, marketing, operations and new projects.
Moran moves its headquarters from Greenwich, CT to New Canaan, CT, where it remains today.
Moran further diversifies its business scope and builds powerful new tugs providing escort, docking assistance, stand-by and related services at LNG import terminals in Mexico, Georgia, Maryland and Louisiana.
Moran acquires another tugboat company - River Parishes Company of New Orleans and begins servicing another US port.
Moran acquires Morehead City Towboat Company of Morehead, N.C. and Cape Fear Towing Company of Wilmington N.C.
Moran acquires the Puerto Rico Towing and Barge Company based in San Juan, gaining its 17th port location.
Moran acquires full ownership of Moran Environmental Recovery (MER), the joint venture entity formed in 1998. MER is now a fully diversified recovery and containment organization offering environmental, industrial, mechanical, commercial diving and emergency management services. MER employs 1,000 people located throughout the United States.
Now headquartered in New Canaan, CT,
the still privately-owned company employs over 1,000 people in the marine transportation business and another 1,000 in the environmental recovery business. Moran Towing conducts 37,000 ship assist jobs annually while also transporting over 50 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum products and 3 million tons of dry bulk product yearly. The company is also a leading provider of LNG ship assistance and terminal services in North America and Mexico.
For more detailed information about Moran’s history, click here to access Towline, our Company newsletter first published in 1947.TowLine Magazine ›