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Tug Technology & Business

Tug Technology & Business

A Resolve to innovate helps chart a course to success

Wed 02 May 2018 by Clive Woodbridge

A Resolve to innovate helps chart a course to success
Resolve assisted in the salvage of vessels after hurricanes crippled the Caribbean in October 2017

US-based salvage and emergency response provider, Resolve Marine Group, continues to expand and diversify in the face of challenging market conditions

Resolve Marine Group has grown to become one of the world’s leading providers of emergency response, salvage and wreck removal services. It has a network of fully-stocked 22 Salvage & Marine Fire Fighting (SMFF) depots across the US, which all meet US Oil Pollution Act 1990 (OPA 90) requirements.

Building on its domestic SMFF experience, Resolve* has built up a global footprint, with offices and response bases in the UK, Gibraltar, Rotterdam, Singapore, India, China and South Africa. Resolve claims to have more fully-stocked and owned emergency response warehouses globally than any other provider.

In 2012 Resolve established a joint venture in Shanghai to provide Ship Pollution Response Organisation (SPRO) services to clients in China. Through its base in China’s leading port, Resolve now leads a consortium of SPROs covering around 80% of the ports in China.

On top of this, Resolve provides a one-call Alaska Alternative Planning Criteria for mandatory monitoring and emergency coverage for vessels trading in Alaskan waters. It also provides vessels transiting the Bering Sea, Western Alaska, and the Aleutian Island chain with marine and ship repair services. These are designed to meet the unique needs of this area, employing a team of welders, divers, naval architects, project managers and salvage masters based in Dutch Harbor to support a wide range of vessel types operating in the area.

International expansion has brought with it an element of diversification. For example, Resolve has established a significant presence in Gibraltar, by acquiring the TP Towage Company in 2016. TP Towage had been in business for more than two decades and provides harbour towage and towage related services in and around the Port of Gibraltar.

“The harbour towage business in Gibraltar was acquired to augment our overall business model,” said Resolve director of emergency response Joseph Farrell . “In addition, we also operate a marine services operation in Gibraltar that provides underwater inspections in lieu of drydocking, hull cleaning, and general underwater services,” he told Tug Technology & Business.

The group’s most recent international venture is the creation of an emergency response station based in Cape Town, South Africa, which consists of experienced salvage masters, technicians, divers and emergency response equipment.

Further expansion geographically is constantly being investigated, said Mr Farrell. “We are always looking for growth opportunities and will definitely consider any attractive opportunity that complements our core business,” he noted.

“We are always looking for growth opportunities and will definitely consider any attractive opportunity that complements our core business”

Resolve is also keen to add to its range of capabilities and with this in mind, it recently acquired Ocean Motions, an engineering company that specialises in ship and rig stability and stress software, including loading computers and stress and stability sensors and monitors. Resolve has also developed an in-house tracking tool that allows it to locate towing resources on a real-time basis on behalf of clients.

This group operates its own fleet of tugs in support of its global operations. International salvage activity is delivered though ocean-going tugs 47 m Resolve Commander, which has a bollard pull of 78 tonnes, and the 152-tonnes bollard poll, 58 m anchor handling tug Resolve Monarch. Both

trade globally supporting the group’s salvage operations. Resolve also operates the 63 m anchor handler Resolve Pioneer, which has 80 tonnes of bollard pull as the only privately-funded emergency towing vessel in the US. It is based in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, supporting clients trading from the US to the Far East via the Great Circle Route and is supported in this activity by the 39.6 m vessel Makushin Bay.

The most recently acquired vessel in the fleet is the tractor tug Resolve Hercules. This 55-tonne bollard pull azimuthing stern drive tug was originally built by Keppel Group in 2011. It was purchased second-hand to enhance the harbour towage services provided in Gibraltar and to meet emergency towing demand in the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic.

Resolve has no plans to add further to its fleet at the present time. However, Mr Farrell said the company is “always looking at strategic investments to support our core business” and “if a project calls for a specific tool, then we are always interested in exploring an addition to the fleet.”

Salvage projects

Salvage operations are the mainstay of the group’s international workload and its skills and expertise were called upon extensively following the series of hurricanes that hit the Caribbean and US in September and October 2017. Resolve assisted the US Government and commercial vessel owners, recreational boat operators and residents of the US and British Virgin Islands in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria. The types of vessels salvaged included cargo ships, ferries, supply boats, recreational craft and a floating drydock.

Resolve was mobilising at the beginning of May, as this issue was published, to remove the wreck of Derrick Barge DB1, which sank in October last year while operating in the Gulf of Mexico. Resolve also dealt with 56,597 dwt bulk carrier Cheshire when it was on fire off the Canary Islands in August 2017. Resolve was contracted under a Lloyds Open Form (LOF) and mobilised its fire and salvage response team to the site.

Using grappling hooks to board the vessel in a 5 m swell, the salvage crew was able to make a temporary tow connection and re-establish control of the vessel over 250 nautical miles from shore, Mr Farrell explained. Once connected, Resolve was able to arrange a port of refuge and, using marine chemists and a drone mounted thermal camera, provide assistance to the shipowner to discharge the cargo and safely redeliver the vessel.

Resolve was also contracted to provide salvage services to tanker Genessa, which was blacked out and immobilised after an engineroom explosion and fire outside the port of Kandla, India, in January. Salvage services were provided under a LOF with the SCOPIC** amendment invoked. Resolve mobilised personnel and equipment from its response bases in Mumbai, Singapore, the Netherlands and the US, working closely with the port authorities to contain the fire and stabilise the situation.

Mr Farrell said the salvage market has been challenging for the past few years, leading to industry consolidation. However, “we have survived by being consistent with our business strategy and offering quality, which that has allowed us to continue the global growth of the company,” he said.

Resolve remains committed to continuing to focus on its OPA 90 SMFF, Alaska Alternative Planning Criteria and China SPRO work, while diversifying into offshore decommissioning and other oil and gas related activity.

“What sets us apart from other companies in these markets is quick decision making and flexibility,” said Mr Farrell. Resolve is a family-owned company that is not bound by shareholder interests, he said. “Consequently, customised solutions can be developed and decisions taken quickly to suit our clients’ needs.”

“We have never walked away from a job and continue to reinvest profits in marine assets and safety training”

Mr Farrellalso pointed to Resolve’s track record of successful projects all over the world. “We have never walked away from a job and continue to reinvest profits in marine assets and safety training, which will benefit clients in the future.” He added that the company “invests in innovative technologies which allow for creative, out-of-the-box thinking”.

*Resolve Marine Group started life in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 1980 as a one-tug operation after current president and chief executive officer, Joe Farrell, purchased his first tug, The Resolve.

** SCOPIC clause (Special Compensation P&I Club Clause) is an amendment to Lloyd's Open Form and provides an alternative remuneration to salvors

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