USACE Boat Operator Follows Father’s Footsteps on Board the CATLETT

Born in Cecil County, Maryland, Jacob Tuer was destined for a life on the water. His neighborhood had a slip for his family boat to rest in, and he spent countless hours on jon boats cruising the Elk River with his father.

His father, Jeff Tuer, operated survey vessels for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District from 2014 to 2018. He served on the CATLETT, the District’s newest survey vessel, from the time of its commissioning in 2017 to the end of his USACE career in 2018.

Following in the footsteps of his father, Jacob is now the Assistant Operator of the CATLETT, the largest survey vessel in the District’s Hydrographic Survey Section. The ship surveys navigation channels in and around the upper and lower Chesapeake Bay, including shipping lanes associated with the Port of Baltimore, as part of the Corps’ mission to ensure safe navigation in the region’s channels.

Looking back, one fond memory from when he was about 11, ignited a desire to work on the water.

“I remember being taken out of school for an appointment, and instead of my dad taking me back, he took me on a boat ride up the river,” Tuer said. “We went to the C&D canal and stopped at the Chesapeake Inn restaurant.”

In reality, the boat ride was uneventful. It was the vast knowledge that Jeff was able to share with Jacob that made the lasting impression and shaped the direction for his future career.

“It was such a long trip. We would pass businesses and boats and my dad would know exactly what they did and who worked there or on a particular boat,” said Tuer. “I remember passing by Dann Marine Towing and thinking it would be cool to work on a tugboat like that.”

Jacob Tuer graduated from SUNY Maritime College with an associate degree in Small Vessel Operations in 2016. After graduation, he started his career with Dann Marine Towing, the same company he aspired to work for as a young child.

“I worked on a tugboat engaged in dredging operations and I would always see Army Corps boats down there,” said Tuer. “That position was the other side of what I do now, it’s really neat looking at the operations from the other end.”

Now, aboard the CATLETT, Tuer performs the duties his father once did. It is his responsibility to get the vessel ready to go and assist in the navigation throughout the Chesapeake Bay. Working with a crew of three to four, Tuer is a jack of all trades. He assists the surveyors with their setup, performs oil changes and general maintenance, inspects lifejackets, works with vendors to order fuel, and periodically drives the vessel.

“Throughout my career, it’s been a recurring theme to hear, ‘I know your dad, I worked with him!’,” said Tuer.

Although the Tuer’s never worked aboard the CATLETT together, the generational wealth of knowledge is impactful to the everyday survey mission of the Baltimore District.