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The ROLAND, first of three identical Navy tugs, was built by Puget Sound Bridge & Dredge Company during World War II. The tugs were identified by Navy numbers, the ROLAND YTB-361 and the sister-tugs YTB362 and YTB-363. The YTB's were used in Alaska and Puget Sound as general service tugs. The 361 served the Navy for seventeen years, then in 1960 she was declared surplus and sold by sealed bid on October 28, 1960 to the Foss Company.
On November 25, the ELAINE towed her to the Foss-Seattle yard for outfitting. After three months of yard work the tug was ready to take on a job, under the name ROLAND FOSS. Not since 1946 had the name ROLAND been carried on the roster of active tugs.
The ROLAND began began her Foss career on March 2, 1961, with Captain Gil Behrendt in charge, by towing a loaded oil barge between Seattle and Tacoma. The Roland then became a regular linehaul tug, taking part in all the established barge runs from Seattle.
Then in September 1961, when the MARGARET with the FOSS-109 came to Seattle from southeastern Alaska for annual repair, Foss sent the ROLAND north as the replacement tug on the Alaska oil run. With more logging communities added to the route and some having narrow harbor entrances and many located in shallow-water bays and inlets, the ROLAND with her light draft was well-suited for the job. She provided reliable services, so Foss kept her on the run for the next five years. The time came in 1966 to give way to her sister-tug, the ROGER FOSS. The only difference in the two tugs, but an important factor in making the change, was the ROGER's additional 150 horsepower due to a super-charger on the heavy-duty Washington diesel.
The ROLAND returned to Seattle for a major overhaul and then started full-time duty on the Puget Sound linehauls. She remained for the rest of her active status with Foss working out of the Seattle office, never venturing more than 150 miles from home.
In the fall of 1970 the ROLAND gave up general towing and went on charter to Puget Sound Freight Lines for towing cargo-barges on the Sound and from southern British Columbia ports. The charter was "bareboat" and the only Foss crewman was Morris Pixley, the Chief Engineer. The rest were P. S. Freight Lines men. During the charter the ROLAND came close to sinking. It happened while towing a barge loaded with 800 tons of pulp across the Straits, between Port Angeles and Victoria, B.C. When approaching the Canadian side, the weather rapidly worsened and strong winds with rough seas buffeted the tug. The ROLAND began rolling heavily in the trough of the seas and water poured in the engine room for an undisclosed leak in the hull. The Chief started the bilge pump, but the flood of water was too much for the pump and in minutes the water sloshed over the engine-room floor plates. The Captain called the Coast Guard in Victoria for assistance, but they were unable to respond. The Chief warned the Captain that he couldn't keep her afloat for more than an hour. With the tug hove-to and exposed to the seas in open water, the Captain had no choice but to cut the barge adrift and head for the shelter of Beecher Bay. After dropping the towline and the barge, which came to anchor by the weight of the line, the ROLAND made for the Bay as fast as the seas would allow. The ROLAND won the race, but a few minutes more and the water would have smothered the engine room machinery and the tug would have foundered. Anchored in quiet water, the leak eased up and the chief was able to pump out the engine room. Then he changed oil in the main engine as the oil was contaminated with salt water. The next day and in calm seas, the ROLAND proceeded to Seattle. With the flat water and the hull not straining, the leaking was minimal. so they arrived in Seattle unaided. The barge was picked up by a Canadian tug and delivered to Victoria none the worse for riding out the gale. The inspection at the Foss yard revealed twenty-five feet of caulking out below the guards on the port side. After recaulking, the ROLAND went back to her regular work and stayed on the job without lay-up through 1972. But by this time Foss had several new and powerful tugs to call on, so the 400 horsepower ROLAND with a thirty-year-old heavy-duty engine and requiring an engineer, could no longer hold her own against the modern hotshot tugs. The ROLAND was idle during the first few months of 1973, then as several of the new tugs were assigned to Alaska during the summer and fall, Foss used her on an intermittent basis, but with the arrival of winter, her operating days were few and far between. In the first few months of 1974 the ROLAND operated two or three days a month- only as a fill-in boat. On her last assignment for Foss, May 4, 1974 she towed the loaded bulk-cement barge FOSS-157 from Bellingham to Seattle. She remained on the active list the remainder of the season, but the tug was never used.
The ROLAND was placed on reserve status in October 1974 and declared surplus in 1975. The tug remained in the lay-up fleet until December 1976 when Foss sold her to Robert Bainter of Longbranch, Washington. Mr. Bainter changed her name to CHIPPEWA and ran the tug to Juneau, Alaska where he made her available for general towing. On several occasions when time was not of the essence, the ROLAND made barge tows between Seattle and Juneau and apparently she pulled on the towline as well as ever. When not towing in Alaska, the CHIPPEWA was berthed at Longbranch on Southern Puget Sound, doubling as a family yacht. Tug or yacht-ROLAND or CHIPPEWA, and compared to the SIMON, FOSS 15, WALLACE, and the rest of the ex-Foss venerables, she still has a long life ahead of her.