Spanopoulos provides harbour support, escort duties, salvage and oceangoing towage services with a fleet of tugs it has purchased and built itself
Greek towage, salvage and shipbuilding group Spanopoulos has expanded its fleet through multiple tugboat acquisitions completed this year. These are in addition to the tugs it has built for its fleet at a shipyard in Ambelakia, on Salamis Island, and those it has purchased in the last 10 years.
These acquisitions and newbuildings have boosted Spanopoulos’ fleet to 56 tugs, which operate in the Mediterranean, northern Europe, Baltic and West Africa. Despite the geographic diversity, Spanopoulos’ main focus of operations is in Greece.
Spanopoulos expanded its fleet capabilities this year through acquisitions. Τowage, salvage and chartering specialist Chryssis Symeonides, speaking exclusively to Tug Technology & Business, said Spanopoulos acquired four tugs, originally built in the 1990s with Voith propulsion from the eastern Mediterranean market during Q2 2018.
After their purchase in April this year, they were upgraded in Spanopoulos’ shipyard on Salamis Island, Greece. “One tug was delivered in May and three more were delivered in June,” Mr Symeonides explained at the Posidonia exhibition in Athens, Greece, in June. “We have refurbished them and will put them to work.” Spanopoulos is also building a new tugboat, with total power of 4,475 kW at the Salamis Shipyard.
“We have almost doubled the fleet in just four years”
This year’s expansion is part of a long-term strategy for the group. “We have almost doubled the fleet in just four years,” said Mr Symeonides. “We usually purchase between three and five tugs every year and we can build tugboats in Salamis Shipyard.” He said four tugboats with bollard pulls of around 60 tonnes will be built at the shipyard for the group’s own requirements. The shipyard built six tugs in 2017.
Spanopoulos’ tug fleet provides ship assistance in harbours to berth and unberth vessels and to provide mooring assistance and escort duties. Its tugs are mainly operated out of Perama near Piraeus, where the group has a yacht construction yard.
It also has tug stations on Greek islands including Crete, Corfu, Mykonos and Rhodes and operations in Piraeus and Thessalonica. “We also assist the Greek Navy on an exclusive basis,” said Mr Symeonides. It provides escort services throughout the Mediterranean, in the Adriatic Sea, across the Aegean Sea and in the Black and Red seas.
“Our Mediterranean harbour tugs service tankers, LNG carriers and container ships,” he explained. Spanopoulos works for most major Greek-owned shipping companies “providing a berth-to-berth service”.
Spanopoulos also provides oceangoing towage across the Indian Ocean and project towage using a fleet of anchor handlers that includes three with dynamic positioning and 100 tonnes of bollard pull.
“We have up to six anchor handlers currently on towage projects from the Black Sea to northern Europe, West Africa to Turkey and Black Sea to Singapore,” said Mr Symeonides. These tugs can tow individually, or as part of a team, all types of heavy equipment including drilling rigs, oil production platforms and barges, transport barges, tankers and other large floating objects over long distances.
Spanopoulos has provided salvage operations, mostly in Greece, since purchasing its first floating crane, Ta Dyo Aderfia, in 1980. It has since been involved in emergency response to casualties, from collisions, groundings or breakdowns, to fire-fighting and oil spillage clean up.
“We have been involved in some of the largest salvage projects in Greece,” said Mr Symeonides. This included tackling oil pollution and wreck removal of sunken tanker Agia Zoni II in September 2017, using a floating ringer crane with 1,300 tonnes lifting capacity and a fleet of salvage tugs and antipollution vessels. “Up to 15 vessels were involved in that salvage project,” he explained.
The shipwreck of the 45-year-old, 3,200-dwt product tanker was safely removed on 29 November, three months after it sank. At the time, project co-ordinator and salvage group owner Michalis Spanopoulos described the wreck removal as “a demanding battle” which was “successfully fought” while reducing the consequences of the oil spill in the sea and in coastal areas. “With the removal of this harmful polluter, we managed to mitigate the risk of more adverse impact on the environment.”
“With the removal of this harmful polluter, we managed to mitigate the risk of more adverse impact on the environment”
On 17 May 2018, Spanopoulos’s salvage team was asked by P&I principals to offer assistance and technical expertise on a bunkers- and cargo-contamination incident that occurred on board Papayiannis. Spanopoulos was then awarded an amended WreckStage 2010 contract to empty the vessel’s cargo hold No 2, which was loaded with about 11,000 tonnes of steel billets. About 700 tonnes of them were contaminated with heavy fuel oil, which had also contaminated the hold, side shells and bilge oil pumping system.
Spanopoulos dispatched semi-submersible barge Atlantis I, which has a 10,000-tonnes loading capacity, plus various flat-top barges, tugboats, antipollution gear and a team of 50 experts. During the contracted period of 12 working days under 24-hour operations, the following tasks were completed resulting in the best outcome for the vessel and its interests including the P&I club, charterers and principals:
Spanopoulos was also involved in removing the wreck of cargo vessel Gerasimos from the Platygiali terminal at Astakos Port. Spanopoulos used semi-submersible barge Atlantis I, equipped with four chain pullers of 78-mm chains with a total pulling capacity of 1,800 tonnes for this project. It also used floating crane, Ignatios X, which has 120 tonnes of lifting capacity and anchor handling tug Christos XXII with 67 tonnes of bollard pull.
The wreck was contained and sealed with multiple layers of oil containment and oil-absorbing booms. Atlantis I was positioned at the front starboard side of the wreck stern, perpendicular to the wreck’s position.
This barge was ballasted and submerged until it safely touched the bottom. The wreck was moved towards the submerged barge by a floating crane. Then Atlantis I was deballasted until the wreck safely touched barge’s deck and was lifted up to the sea surface.
Atlantis I was further deballasted to properly trim and secure the wreck for the towing operation before the wreck was safely removed and transferred to Spanopoulos’ Salamis Shipyard for inspection before a demolition yard was agreed.
Also in December 2017, Spanopoulos refloated and removed grounded passenger ship Makedonia in Limnionas Bay, Salamis, using tugboats Christos XXII and Christos XXXVII. The ferry was then towed to the Salamis Shipyard on 18 December.
Spanopoulos was founded 50 years ago as a family-owned and operated maritime group with experience in implementing a wide number of challenging projects in the marine and offshore field. It is led by president and managing director Ignatios Spanopoulos and group vice president Mike Spanopoulos.
Spanopoulos employs more than 700 people at its shipyards in Salamis, Perama and on its tug and barge fleet.
“Each tug has a permanent crew on board so they are ready for operations,” said Mr Symeonides. “We do our own training at our main offices and have seminars to update crew and managers with the latest regulations and safety requirements.”
Spanopoulos is a leading contractor in the marine construction field throughout the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Red Sea. Over the last 50 years it has undertaken more than 400 projects in Greece and abroad, such as: harbour and marina construction, breakwaters and coastal protection, caissons and concrete installations, pile driving, offshore foundation works and geotechnical investigations. It is also involved in underwater pipeline and cable laying, and repair and dredging.
As mentioned, it also operates a shipbuilding and repair yard in Ambelakia on Salamis Island and a yacht construction and repair yard in Perama, Piraeus.
It is expanding its construction activities by building a shipyard in Elefsis. This will cover 82,000 m2 and have floating docks of more than 200 m. This facility will be able to construct and repair vessels of up to 120 m.
Operates more than 120 various types of vessels, which include:
1962 – First vessel, Vosporos, active in Piraeus.
1977 – Constructs first newbuild tug, Christos.
1979 – Starts chartering tugs for harbour work.
1980 – Constructs first floating crane, Ta Dyo Aderfia.
1987 – Acquires Dimitrios G for oil exploration in Ionian Sea.
1999 – Reconstructs Piraeus passenger terminal.
2006 – Establishes new shipyard in Salamis Island.
2009 – Starts ocean towage services with three tugs, 100-tonnes bollard pull.
2012 – Constructs self-propelled crane barge Ignatios III.
2014 – Opens yacht yard in Perama.
2016 – Constructs two Christos tugs, 45-tonnes bollard pull.
2017 – Constructs six new tugs, acquired self-elevating barge, 1,300 tonnes lift capacity.
2018 – Expands of shipyard, Salamis Island.
2020 – Will open new shipyard at Elefsis.