By Dan Bewley, The News On 6
TULSA COUNTY -- The Port of Catoosa has a special guest this weekend. The country's largest tugboat was in town.
The Motor Vessel Mississippi's mission is to show off what the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System can handle.
Some sat in the shade of an umbrella, and others caught a glimpse from the riverbank. They all came to see the behemoth -- the M/V Mississippi.
"It is huge; it's really big. It's amazing, said Paul Finnegan of Tulsa.
The M/V Mississippi is the headliner for the Corps of Engineers. It's 241 feet long with a 58 foot beam.
"You have to think days, weeks, months in advance about what could go wrong," said Captain Pete Ciaramitaro, M/V Mississippi.
Saturday it took the big tug five hours to get from Muskogee to the Port of Catoosa.
Dan Bewley, The News On 6: What was the ride like?
James Hanning, Wagoner resident: It was awesome. It was awesome.
It's in town this weekend for a meeting of the Mississippi River Commission, the group charged with promoting the inland waterway.
"It shows you the kind of capabilities that your port has," said Bob Portiss, Port of Catoosa Director.
Portiss says more than a billion dollars worth of cargo is transported on the waterways to the Tulsa area every year.
"We have an inland river port that we can ship cargo from here to any place in the world," said Portiss.
Portiss says if the port and the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System can handle this beast, it can handle anything. Proof positive, he says, of the power of an often overlooked major economic driver in eastern Oklahoma.
The tugboat will be at the Port of Catoosa until Monday morning when it will head back to Fort Smith. On board will be members of the Mississippi River Commission where they'll hold meetings during the trip.