Company History

Heritage Marine was born on an idea or a belief that tug operations in the Twin Ports area was not only sagging in capabilities but in desperate need of some good old fashion competition. A belief led Mike Ojard, owner and founder, of Heritage Marine to seriously research the market, locate a tugboat capable of outperforming existing operations, and having Hertiage Marine up and running as quickly as possible. In 2007 Mike found such a boat and made the purchase of the ex-Army Corps of Engineering tug FORNEY. Mike, his two sons, and a crew of friends traveled to Manitowoc, Wisconsin where the boat was located and in October of that same year piloted the tug back to Duluth.

In less than 5 years Heritage Marine has not only survived it has flourished and proven itself to be a major player. The Forney has been renamed the Edward H, and has been retrofitted with many new capabilities including engine upgrades, additonal steel throughout the hull for ice-breaking superiority, state of the art electronics and guidance systems, and a new clutch assembly, flywheel and brake in the propeller shaft. Between the new computer controls and the clutch assembly the tug can go from making 200 turns ahead to 200 astern in less than three seconds.

Because of demand Heritage Marine has added 2 additional tugs to their operation. The first was in the spring of 2009. The vessel ARES was purchased from Seabulk Towing in Port Aurthur Texas and renamed the Nels J. Like the Edward H, the Nels J has gone through a complete transformation with a refurbishment of the hull and addtional steel for ice-breaking, upgrading the engine (2200hp), adding new electronics and guidance systems, adding a bow thruster, and a complete overhaul of the exterior. The second was in 2011 with the purchase of the W. Douglas Masterson out of Galveston Texas. The Masterson, was brought to Duluth and like all of Heritage Marine tugs renamed the Helen H and taken through an exhaustive refurb process. Helen H, like her brothers Nels J and Edward H, has a reinforced hull for superior ice-breaking capabilities, an upgraded engine (2000hp), state of the art electronics, upgraded safety equipment, and other design modification that have set Heritage Marine above their competition.

No one in life can predict the future, but it is almost a sure bet that Heritage Marine isn't going to go quietly into the night as their competitors thought. It is equally assured that the name Heritage Marine will be around a for many years to come and it's operation will continue to grow as more and more companies select Heritage Marine as their source for ice-breaking services, lake towing, ship assist & escort, and construction support on Lake Superior and throughout the Great Lakes.