Tug owners worldwide are facing extraordinary challenges to their operations and investments due to the coronavirus pandemic
Their business models have been smashed by a global economic recession and collapse in passenger ship handling requirements, but cargo ship dockings continue at pace. However, the period ahead will bring a lot of uncertainty.
Operators are challenged by port and travel restrictions during Covid-19 crisis, for crew changes and servicing their tug fleets.
But maritime trade continues, ships still need escorting, manoeuvring and docking, and there are still maritime emergencies to tackle.
Port operations will continue right through the dark weeks and months of lockdown and the gradual return to some form of normality.
Tug owners need to be ready to handle ships and provide emergency towage when called upon. They are often first-responders to shipping accidents and are vital for harbour and terminal operations.
Without powerful and crew-ready tugs, port operations will be thwarted, and ships delayed waiting for docking support.
In the Q2 2020 issue of Tug Technology & Business, tug owners explain how they are overcoming commercial and personnel challenges to maintain operations.
Cafimar Group managing director Gian Paolo Russo explains how owners in southern Europe are tackling coronavirus issues and how towage activity as a public service cannot stop because of crewing issues or remote working.
Cafimar’s services in the passenger ship port of Civitavecchia, near Rome, have been impacted by severe disruption to cruise and ferry demand. Its deepsea and coastal towage business has also been affected as projects are stalled, but harbour towage continues.
And so does salvage. In this issue, International Salvage Union (ISU) president Richard Janssen speaks about pollution prevented by its members and how tug operators are prepared to react to maritime emergencies, even during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Their services are classed as essential by governments worried that any lack of preparedness could lead to maritime disasters. As examples, four tugs refloated grounded container ship CMA CGM Dalila near Houston, Texas, on 22 April.
While on 21 April, tugs refloated product tanker Aziz Torlak, which had been grounded off Morocco for 11 days, and other tugs towed distress ship Takeshio to safety off British Columbia.
Tug owners need to be prepared to give their best possible performance to exceed requirements now and in the future. Safe and secure operations have to continue in the face of tough technical, personal and commercial challenges, and so does technology development.
Some of the latest developments in propulsion and green energy will be presented in Riviera’s series of webinars, starting on 5 May with Maritime Propulsion Webinar Week. Further webinar weeks will cover hybrid and electric propulsion and the role of ports in decarbonising the maritime industry.