Tugs are being ordered to increase towage capacity as larger ships call at more ports in the Americas and Europe
There was a surge in tug newbuilding orders during 2020, pushing the global orderbook to more than 330 vessels, but there has been a quieter start to 2021.
According to data from BRL Shipping Consultants, the annual worldwide orderbook of tugs of over 20 m in overall length has increased, with more than 100 ordered in 2020, up from 73 in 2019.
Several factors are driving owners to order new tugs, and shipyards to build tugs for stock. Ports are expanding and handling larger ships in varying weather and sea conditions.
Tugs need to manoeuvre ultra-large container carriers, post-Capesize bulkers and larger gas carriers, operating in harsh or inclement weather ensuring there is enough bollard pull for safe escort and towage. There is also a growing trend to order tugs with greener propulsion, with some owners contracting shipyards to build tugs to meet IMO Tier III emissions requirements.
In North America, Edison Chouest started constructing two offshore terminal tugs with hybrid propulsion to support floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) operations and tanker loadings, at its own shipyard in Louisiana. It will build these 50-m vessels to support ExxonMobil’s growing business offshore Guyana, where the oil major has three deepwater FPSO-based projects.
Edison Chouest is building the terminal support tugs to Damen’s ASD 5016 design with escort and FiFi1 class. These vessels will be equipped for oil spill recovery, hose-handling and maintenance duties. They will have 120 tonnes of static bollard pull, delivered by twin C-280 engines and azimuth thrusters installed on the stern.
Separately, Edison Chouest is expanding Gulf Ship in Gulfport, Mississippi. This shipyard constructs tractor tugs and platform supply vessels. Gulf Ship will retrofit a portion of its facility to improve its boat-launching system and waterfront area.
Also in the US, Washburn & Doughty in Boothbay, Maine is building two new harbour tugs for Moran Towing. Wyatt Moran was launched on 14 November and is set to be delivered in 2021. Following this, Washburn & Doughty will build sister tug Andrew Moran.
Nichols Brothers Boat Builders (NBBB) continues building ASD tugs for Foss Maritime. So far, three have been delivered, with the latest, Leisa Florence, launched in November in Freeland, Washington state. These are ASD-90 class tugs, built to Jensen Maritime’s Valor design with 90 tonnes of bollard pull. A fourth tug newbuilding, Rachael Allen, is scheduled to be completed in 2021, and others could follow.
Another tug owner is expanding its terminal support capabilities in Guyana. Kotug International purchased DP-2 azimuth anchor-handling tug BB Power from Buksér og Berging. This 2015-built vessel, renamed SD Power, has 130 tonnes of bollard pull and a top speed of 15 knots.
This represents Kotug’s first operation in South America. “Being part of the growing offshore oil and gas activities in Guyana and working together with ExxonMobil for us is an important milestone and in line with our long-term strategy to grow our business in the FPSO support market,” says Kotug chief executive Ard-Jan Kooren.
In Brazil, Wilson Sons started operations in the Port of Santarém in November with a new tugboat with azimuthal propulsion. This company already operates in 33 ports and terminals across Brazil. The Port of Santarém lies on the Amazon River system in the State of Pará and is an important hub for grain exports and fertiliser imports.
In Ecuador, SAAM Towage is expanding its fleet through an acquisition. It has purchased a 25.3-m harbour tug from builder and owner Med Marine in Turkey. MED-A2575-class, 2016-built tugboat Efesan Port was renamed SAAM Tarqui and mobilised from Med Marine’s fleet in Turkey. It was built to Robert Allan’s RAmparts 2500W design as a compact tugboat with 70 tonnes of bollard pull.
SAAM Towage Ecuador manager Juan Alfredo Illingworth notes, “SAAM Tarqui meets the safety standards for our operation in Ecuador. It also offers design features such as adequate power, shorter length, compact superstructure design and hull characteristics that make it optimal for operations in limited space, like those typical of transit and support operations in the Guayaquil area.”
SAAM Tarqui was delivered to Ecuador by TOS Ship Delivery. SAAM says another tug is scheduled to arrive in Ecuador from Mexico in Q2 2021.
In Turkey, owners continue to purchase tugs to expand their fleets. Arpas bought two tugs from builder and operator Sanmar to bolster towage in Iskenderun port. It acquired 2020-built Sirapinar XVI and lower-powered, 2003-built Nehir.
Sirapinar XVI was built to Robert Allan’s RAmparts 2200 design as a 22-m ASD tug with 50 tonnes of bollard pull. Nehir is based on Robert Allan’s TS 22/40 design with bollard pull of 30 tonnes.
Also in Q4 2020, an Eren Holdings subsidiary purchased a 2018-built Bogacay-class tug from Sanmar’s own fleet to support shipping using Eren Port on Turkey’s Black Sea coast.
Bogacay XXXIII is the third tugboat Sanmar has sold to Eren Energy. It was built to Robert Allan’s RAmparts 2400SX design with bollard pull of 60 tonnes.
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