Moran Towing began operations in 1860 when founder Michael Moran opened a towing brokerage, Moran Towing and Transportation Company, in New York Harbor. In 1863, the company was transformed from a brokerage into an owner-operator of tugboats when it purchased a one-half interest in the tugboat Ida Miller for $2,700.
Over time Moran acquires a fleet of tugboats. It was Michael Moran who painted the first white "M" on a Moran tugboat stack, in 1880.
During Moran's first seventy five years, the company grew and was deeply involved in the commercial life of New York city. When New York celebrated the centennial of George Washington's inauguration, Moran handled the re-enactment of Washington's boat trip to Lower Manhattan. Some years later, Moran tugs and barges transported the excavated soil from the construction of the New York City subway.
Beyond New York, a Moran tug was the first vessel to enter Havana Harbor after the Spanish-American War. After the turn of the century, another Moran tug sailed around the tip of South America and won the contract to transport material excavated during the construction of the Panama Canal.
In the early days of World War I, Moran provided tugs to the British Government. After America entered the War, the United States Government built numerous tugs, all based on Moran designs.
During World War II, Moran operated more than one hundred tugs, both Moran and Government owned, as part of the war effort.
The company's most significant contribution was the towing of huge barges across the North Atlantic for a crucial rendezvous with a Moran operated tug fleet in the English Channel. The Channel based fleet was transporting artificial harbors to strategic points off the Normandy coast, where it would install them so that heavy equipment could be unloaded onto the beaches. The operation was critical to the success of the Allied invasion of Europe.
World War II was a significant turning point for Moran, and initiated a period of rapid growth and geographic expansion for the company. When the United States returned to peacetime growth, Moran maintained a large fleet it had built up. Moran was one of the first companies to embrace diesel propulsion, and played an active role in the expansion and consolidation of the harbor tug industry. Some of the company's early acquisitions were centered in New York Harbor, but in subsequent years Moran grew geographically, establishing operations in multiple ports along the United States eastern seaboard and Gulf Coast.
In the 1970s, Moran began expanding its presence in the marine transportation segment of the industry, with an ongoing program of tug barge unit construction and acquisition. The current Moran barge fleet services utilities, municipalities and commercial customers, carrying mainly: petroleum products; coal; aggregates; grains; fertilizers; scrap; steel products; and heavy-lift cargoes.
Moran tugs have towed a multitude of commercial and military vessels, including ships, commercial container barges, petroleum barges, dry-bulk barges, LNG spheres, oil rigs, bridge sections, dry-docks, and a barge carrying spent nuclear fuel. In addition to providing ship docking, offshore contract towing and LNG activities, Moran vessels have supported various cable-laying operations and have performed many rescue-tows. The company has a long and proud tradition of service to the U.S. Navy, and its ties to commercial customers span as far back as 100 years.
Paul R. Tregurtha and James R. Barker purchased Moran from Thomas Moran in 1994.
Between 1998 and 2007, Moran acquired several towing and towing-related companies. It purchased Turecamo Maritime and several other Turecamo affiliated companies in 1998; River Parishes Company of New Orleans, in 2006; and in 2007, Morehead City Towboat Co. and Cape Fear Towing Company, of Morehead City and Wilmington, North Carolina, respectively.
These acquisitions further solidified Moran's position as a leader in the tug and barge industry. It is today the oldest and largest supplier of tugs on the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts, with operations in sixteen ports in the United States, and five LNG terminals, stretching from New Hampshire to Mexico.