Since Port Colborne, Ontario is only 20 miles away from Buffalo, New York, growing up there in the 50's and 60's had one key advantage over most any other Canadian kid growing up back then and that was "American TV". Instead of being stuck with only one TV network in Canada then, the CBC, down there we got three: ABC, NBC, and CBS. Shows, shows and more shows like McHale's Navy, Ensign O'Toole, Convoy and more. In fact though I was only a toddler, I remember being allowed to stay up to watch a show on our black and white TV set called the "Adventures of Tugboat Annie". It was a comedy about this cantankerous women skipper of the tugboat NARCISSUS and her ongoing calamities while taking work away from her rival, Horatio Bullwinkle who captained the tug SALAMANDER. I used to get such a charge out of seeing these small but powerful boats motor at full speed around a harbour like in this link of the show's opening credits (https://youtu.be/5cRHf_FQS_g) or seeing photos and painting in library books of Moran tugs with their red cabins and wheelhouse, and the big white "M" displayed on their black smoke stacks while nudging a huge Cunard passenger ship or the USS UNITED STATES to her dock in New York harbour. I guess you can see why I got hooked on tugboats, eh. c):-D
Actually during World War II, the American army operated over 127,000 pieces of floating equipment which included landings crafts, amphibians, modular bridges and over 700 tugboats. The 71' ST-1991 spent most of her 4O year career with 73rd Transportation (Floating Craft) Company at Fort Eustis, Virginia and though she did not serve in Viet Nam, ST-1991 would have been used to train personnel for deployment as well as complete heavy tows within the harbour and limited offshore terminals, along with berthing and unberthing cargo ships.
Other than her participation in a joint service sail past ceremony for the Vice President Dan Quayle on July 4th, 1989, I wasn't able to find out much about ST-1991's actual tasks and accomplishment during her days in the Army or when she was transferred over to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and renamed ORISKANY. When retired in 1994, she was sold to a Port Everglades based towing company and to be frank, she was given the corny name: HOT DOG. Fortunately, soon after she was sold to Abaco Marine Towing LLC of Clayton, New York she was given a more distinctive name, the BOWDITCH. Nathaniel Bowditch was an early American mathematician who was especially known as the founder of modern maritime navigation. His book, "The New American Practical Navigator" was first published in 1802 and is carried on board every commissioned U.S. Navy ship. By the way, for weekend boat watching warriors like myself who might believe the first part of her name, "Bow" would rhyme with "Cow" or refer to the less often these day "pointy" section at the front of a ship, but in this case "Bow" rhymes with "Tow" which is one of BOWDITCH's common any day tasks in the marine salvage business along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario.
As for the BOWDITCH, though nameless and working hard without significance or acknowledgement for so many year, this former "small" army tug came through "big-time" on that cold night in March 2012, and deserves "Hero Ship" significance in my book at least. I look forward to seeing her again during our next "Journey to the OTHER SIDE!!