Investing in fleet modernisation and crew training allows Svitzer to remain agile and flexible in northern Europe
Svitzer has become a leading towage provider in northern Europe by overcoming Covid-related and competition challenges. Three new tugboats have been added to its fleet in the region as part of a modernisation programme.
Svitzer Europe chief commercial officer Mattias Hellström says having a flexible fleet in the region enables the owner to overcome multiple challenges.
“Our towage operations in northern Europe continue to face severe price pressure,” he explains to International Tug & Salvage. “This is topped off by unpredictable volumes due to disrupted maritime logistics and changing global demands in the oil and gas segment, all stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Part of the strategy is to invest in the fleet and crews to overcome unpredictable circumstances.
“In many parts of our European operation, we have tugs flexing between ports and over larger geographies which enables us to meet customer demand by providing the sprightliness they ask for,” says Mr Hellström.
“From our perspective, the key to winning comes down to the operational agility and fleet flexibility we get from being a global company with multi local operations.”
He welcomes competition from other tug operators in the region but wants a “level playing field” with all “adhering to local requirements set by port authorities and meeting safety standards”.
Svitzer’s extensive regional fleet in Europe, of around 140 vessels, requires continued renewal and modernisation. So far this year, Svitzer has taken delivery of three new tugs in Europe. This includes Damen-built Svitzer Thames in the Port of London, UK and Scandinavia-based, Med Marine-built Svitzer Edda and Svitzer Embla.
“These are examples of new vessels where we combine innovative design features, making them fully capable of harbour towage combined with ice-breaking capabilities,” says Mr Hellström.
Just as important is investing in seafarers and their training to operate these agile vessels. “The maritime skillset among crews should reflect the responsibility they have from juggling vast assets every day,” he continues.
“Towage is a people business. The bottom line of everything we do is tied to the skillset and dedication of our crews.” Svitzer employs seafarers and support staff with extremely high capabilities and years of training and experience.
“It is great to see how our crew enable the flexibility needed under the current conditions for the industry,” says Mr Hellström.
“The importance of crew, fleet agility and flexibility cannot be understated, and we are grateful for the support we are seeing now and have seen during the past year and a half in unprecedented times.”
Svitzer Europe is also investing in technology, such as remotely controlled deck machinery and tugboats. It has an innovation partnership with Kongsberg to develop a tug able to undertake jobs while being remotely controlled from shore.
“As a strong industry player, it is natural for us to us to look into projects that enable us to set the standards of towage for tomorrow,” says Mr Hellström.
Svitzer is also committed to identifying potential growth opportunities for expanding its operations into new areas and markets.
“Which means we are always looking for ways to expand our footprint within the industry,” he continues.
“The current environment makes it difficult to predict organic growth, so naturally we are looking at tenders and other ways of growing. Each opportunity is carefully assessed to ensure there is a portfolio match or potential levers to effectuate via our existing business.”
Svitzer Thames is an azimuth stern drive (ASD) tug of ASD 3212 design. It is employed to handle container ships and gas carriers in London and Medway terminals. It has 80 tonnes of bollard pull, an overall length of 32.7 m and beam of 12.85 m.
Svitzer Edda and Svitzer Embla are based on Robert Allan’s TundRA 3000 design. These 30-m tugboats both have a bollard pull of around 60 tonnes, hull beam of 12.6 m, draught of 5.6 m and maximum power of 3,900 kW.