The Latin American market is proving a fertile hunting ground for those seeking opportunities in escort towage
Although owners worldwide are including newbuild tugs with escort capabilities into their fleets, some of the strongest opportunities are in the Americas. SAAM Towage, one of the biggest Latin America owners, is investing in escort tugs for these opportunities. Its managing director Hernán Gómez expects more business will emerge.
“Following our investment in Intertug, we will explore the Caribbean, actively evaluating the market for the right time to expand,” he says. “We will pay special attention to terminal towing in this region.”
SAAM Towage ordered two 32-m escort tugs from Uzmar Shipyard, using Robert Allan design and Bureau Veritas class, to support gas carriers on the Energía del Pacífico (EDP) project in El Salvador. Mr Gómez thinks this is a springboard for more of these opportunities.
“We will strengthen our coverage along the west coast of South America, expand into the Caribbean and increase our share of terminal towing,” he says. “We are prepared to deliver high-quality and properly equipped tugboats to specialised terminals where safe escorting operations are required and valued.”
Rival owner Svitzer Americas has similar growth aspirations. Its managing director Arjen van Dijk expects growth in escort tug opportunities as new terminals are developed. “Terminal towage will grow even stronger in the years to come,” he says. “This includes increasing power and bollard pull of tug fleets in terminals where larger gas carriers are berthing.”
Svitzer supports ship handling in eight terminals in the region. “When it comes to terminal towage, we service oil storage facilities and LNG terminals, throughout Central and South America,” says Mr van Dijk.
In North America, US owners have enhanced their escort tug fleets. Foss Maritime has welcomed three of four azimuth stern drive (ASD) escort tugs it has on order. Nichols Brothers Boat Builders (NBBB) delivered Jamie Ann in March, Sarah Averick in September and then Leisa Florence in November.
These ASD-90 class tugs are built to Jensen Maritime’s Valor design, to US Coast Guard Subchapter M regulatory standards and with ABS Loadline certification and with propulsion compliant to US Environmental Protection Agency’s tough Tier 4 emissions requirements. A fourth tug newbuilding, Rachael Allen, is scheduled to be completed in 2021.
Foss’ ASD-90 tugs have an overall length of 31.7 m, moulded beam of 12.2 m and moulded hull depth of 5.2 m, plus 90 tonnes of bollard pull. They each have two MTU series 4000 main engines driving Kongsberg’s US255 azimuth thrusters. For Tier 4 compliance, they have selective catalytic reduction systems for removing NOx emissions.
“Terminal towage will grow even stronger in the years to come”
Gulf Island Fabrication has constructed a series of escort-capable tugs for US owners Suderman & Young Towing and Bay-Houston Towing to Robert Allan’s Z-Tech 30-80 design. The 10th tug of this series was delivered in Q4 2020.
These tugs have more than 90 tonnes of bollard pull, from two Caterpillar 3516E main diesel engines, compliant with EPA Tier 4 and driving a pair of Schottel SRP 510 fixed-pitch Z-drive units.
Eastern Shipbuilding has built two escort tugs with 3,800 kW of power for Bisso Offshore. These Z-drive tugs are constructed to RApport 2400 design and EPA Tier 4 compliance, with two Caterpillar 3512E main diesel engines driving two Kongsberg US205 P20 thrusters.
Diversified Marine in Portland, Oregon, built the 307-gt escort tug Hercules for Brusco Tug in 2020, and it was chartered to Crowley Maritime to support ships on the US west coast. This ASD tug was built to RApport 2500 design with 89 tonnes of bollard pull ahead and 87 tonnes astern. This is formidable power from a tug with an overall length of 25 m and moulded beam of 12.2 m. Hercules has two Cat 3516E engines, compliant with EPA’s Tier 4 emissions requirements. These drive two Berg Propulsion MTA 627 azimuth thrusters.