The Great Lakes Group


“Your reputation is on the line with every tow.”

With over 40 years of experience, Captain Mike Patterson has honed skills that he now feels passionately about passing down to the next generation of tugmen at The Great Lakes Towing Company.

“One of the things I’ve always liked best about the job is that a captain can’t do it alone. We work as a team. Every time we’re out there we have to remember that we are there for a reason – our customers depend on us to get them to the dock. We do it for them and for our own self-pride…your reputation is on the line with every tow.”

Mike Patterson

His illustrious career includes countless successful tows into port and helping ships through treacherous ice conditions. “Ice breaking is a very delicate business,” says Patterson. “You have to loosen the ice without damaging the boats. You have to have stamina. You’re gone all day and into the night. There’s no rest. It’s really intense – brutal on the tugs and on the men. You have to be a bit of an adrenaline junkie to do this kind of work.”

Patterson loves his job, he takes great pride in having started from square one and learning from mentors like his own father. “Anyone getting into this industry should start at the bottom and work their way up. You learn the hard way, but it makes you better at your job. This will make you a better captain.”


Safety comes with experience. The tugmen at The Great Lakes Towing Company, in Patterson’s estimation as well as many industry experts, “…are more experienced than any of the competitors. The competition thinks what we do looks easy – it’s not. They can make costly mistakes, that our experience will prevent, which gives our customers an edge when they use a G-tug.”

“If you’re the captain of a vessel and have an accident, the first thing you’re asked is if you did everything you could to prevent the accident – that includes using our tug services. Taking a tug is an extra cost, but the cost is nothing when you consider the cost of an accident. The low cost of taking a tug far outweighs the cost of an accident. It’s cheap insurance.”

Mike Patterson

In addition to experience, Patterson says the reason he enjoys being a part of the Great Lakes team is because The Towing Company goes the extra mile for staff, which motivates Tug Captain Mike Patterson to exceed the expectations customers have on each job he is a part of.