The global fleet of 635 oceangoing tugs has grown by 57 vessels in two years and is now valued at US$958M
Demand for deepsea and project towage has led to an increase of almost 10% in the global fleet of oceangoing tugs in the past two years. According to VesselsValue, there were 635 oceangoing tugs in the worldwide fleet at the end of 2019, up from 578 tugs of this class in Q4 2017.
This implies 57 additional tugs in two years, with no older tonnage decommissioned. But this is a moderate increase as the market has seen a sharp fall in newbuildings in the last three years, following high levels of newbuilding contracts and deliveries of oceangoing tugs for the previous 10 years.
Only around 60 of these tugs are less than five years old. This contrasts with more than 80 oceangoing tugs built between 2010 and 2015 and almost 120 vessels delivered from 2005 to 2010, the newbuilding peak.
In the global fleet, another 80-90 oceangoing tugs are 15 to 25 years old, around 130 tugs are 25-40 years old and around 160-170 tugs are more than 40 years old. This has not changed much from VesselsValue data published by Tug Technology & Business in 2017.
VesselsValue values the total global fleet of oceangoing tugs at US$958M.
At the end of 2019, 461 of the global fleet of 635 oceangoing tugs, representing 72.6%, were classed as small with a value of US$435.1M, or 45.5% of the total.
There were 105 medium-sized tugs (16.5%) with a value of US$265.8M (27.7%). Globally there were 56 (9%) large-sized oceangoing tugs with a value of US$208.1M, or 21.7% of the total. Plus 13 were classed as extra-large with the highest bollard pull and a combined value of US$49.4M.
These oceangoing tugs operate worldwide, but 139 tugs, representing 22%, are based in Asia and 126 (20%) are stationed in Europe. Another 83 (13%) are in North America and 43 (6.8%) are in the Gulf of Mexico. There are 56 (8.6%) oceangoing tugs in the Middle East and 37 tugs (5.8%) in the Arctic for ice breaking and towage.
This leaves 151 tugs based around the rest of the world, representing 24% of the total fleet.
The largest fleets in terms of value are operated from east and southeast Asian organisations. By the end of 2019, Malaysia-headquartered Tong Hang Marine was largest owner in terms of value of oceangoing tug fleet (valued at US$139.9M by VesselsValue).
Chinese Nanhai Rescue Bureau of Ministry of Transport operates a fleet valued at US$53.5M. It governs eight rescue bases in China in Shantou, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Yangjiang, Zhanjiang, Baihai, Haikou and Sanya.
On top of this, the Chinese Government operates a fleet of oceangoing tugs valued at US$30.9M.
There is growing interest in towage, ice breaking and standby rescue in the Arctic as shipping lines contemplate using northern sea routes. This has led the Russian Government to amass an oceangoing tug fleet valued at US$46.2M.
Outside these regions, Edison Chouest has the largest fleet in terms of value with a price-tag of US$29.1M.
ALP Maritime Services operates the largest and most powerful oceangoing tugs, with 10 anchor handling vessels in the fleet. This includes the most powerful, ALP Striker with 309 tonnes of bollard pull and dynamic positioning to DP2 class. Three other Future-class Ulstein SX127 anchor handling and salvage tugs – ALP Defender, ALP Sweeper and ALP Keeper – have bollard pulls of more than 300 tonnes.
These mainly provide towage and repositioning services to FPSOs worldwide, including Baobab Ivoirien MV10 in Ivory Coast, Kaombo Norte offshore Angola and Curlew in the UK North Sea in 2019.