Shipping group Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has expanded into harbour towage into north Europe after taking tentative steps in Italy
MSC has brought a modern azimuth stern drive (ASD) tugboat into the Port of Antwerp, in Belgium. This is the first time MSC has provided towage in the region after it started operating a tug in Sardinia under the MedTug affiliate in 2019.
In Antwerp, MSC’s MedTug has begun operating Med Castor to assist container ships into terminals, according to Shipping Italy.
This tug was ordered by the Onorato family subsidiary Moby in 2018 from Damen Shipyards. Built as Orlando Onorato at Damen Song Cam shipyard in Vietnam for Moby, it was expected to enter service in Cagliari, Italy, but this did not happen due to legal issues and the tug remained undelivered.
Med Castor was built to an ASD tug 2813 design with two Caterpillar 3516 TA main diesel engines. It was stored in the Netherlands since completion and mobilised to Belgium where it underwent sea trials in May 2021, before entering the busy Antwerp towage market.
Damen built Med Castor with an overall length of 27.6 m, beam of 12.9 m and depth of 5.2 m. It has bollard pull of 85 tonnes and a speed of up to 13 knots.
According to reports in the Netherlands a second tug is being prepared by Damen for MSC’s operatons in Antwerp. MSC may also be planning to expand towage services into Rotterdam.
Last week, Fairplay Towage Group said it would be assisting MSC ships in northern European ports using its tugs.
In 2019, the Onorato family informed investors it was ready to leave the tugboat business with a statement to the Luxembourg stock exchange.
Eventually, MSC took over operations of Moby’s ASD tug Vincenzino O tug, which was operating in the port of Sarroch in Sardinia. This tugboat was built by Damen ready to be updated to IMO Tier III emissions requirements with space to install a selective catalytic reaction unit.
MSC’s previous exposure to the tug operating sector was as a partner in Medcenter Container Terminal in Italy which operates a container port in the port of Gioia Tauro, near the southern tip of Italy. Being the largest container terminal in Italy, it accommodates ultra-large container ships.
Medcenter Container owns 50% in the joint venture Con.Tug, with tug owner Scafi owning the other half, which operates tugs in the port.
In 2020, Con.Tug took delivery of €7M (US$8M) ASD tug Gioia Tauro to assist container ships of up to 24,000 TEU to berth and undock from the terminal.
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