Built in 1975, by the Louis G. Ortis Boat Company of Krotz Springs, Louisiana (hull #11) as the Tony Toups for Tony Toups Towing Incorporated of Harvey, Louisiana.
In 1993, the tug was acquired by the Western Towing Company of Channelview, Texas. Where she was renamed as the Big Bay.
In 2004, she was acquired by the Kirby Corporation of Channelview, Texas. Where the tug retained her name.
In 2019, the tug was acquired by the Watco Companies of Blytheville, Arkansas. Where she was renamed as the Joseph M. Ellis
Repowered in 1998, the tug is driven by two GM 8V-149 diesel engines. With Twin Disc reduction gears, at a ratio of 5.17:1. She is a twin screw towboat, rated at 1,200 horsepower.