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Tug Technology & Business

Tug Technology & Business

Starting-gun fired on tug newbuilding campaigns

Tue 30 Apr 2019 by Martyn Wingrove

Starting-gun fired on tug newbuilding campaigns
Sanmar is building Bogacay series tugs for European and Middle East owners

Large fleet construction contracts in China, Ukraine, the Middle East and for Australian projects boost the global tug newbuilding orderbook

Tug newbuilding contracting and construction was dominated in the first four months of this year by orders for multiple vessels. Shipyards in the Middle East and Asia were contracted to build fleets of tugboats and workboats between January-April 2019 as owners secured port service licences and project concessions.

The largest contract by the number of vessels ordered was award by COSCO Shipping Bulk Transportation. This Chinese group requires 11 pusher vessels from Jiangsu Zhenjiang Shipyard to support a bauxite mine project in Guinea.

These tugs will each have 2,685 kW of power for pushing full and empty barges along rivers in Guinea, which has the world’s largest bauxite reserves.

Constructing these pusher vessels is part of China’s One Belt One Road initiative, said COSCO Shipping. Zhenjiang Shipyard started constructing the first seven of these pusher tugs in March this year after holding a steel-cutting ceremony in the shipyard.

Zhenjiang Shipyard was also the recipient of another tug fleet order in April. Chinese tug operator Liaoning Longyun Shunze Tug contracted the yard to construct a fleet of azimuth stern drive (ASD) tugs. Each of these tugs will have maximum power of 4,475 kW once completed, which is expected in 2020.

Construction of these four ASD tugboats began with a steel cutting ceremony at Zhenjiang Shipyard on 19 April.

Liaoning Longyun Shunze is responsible for assisting vessels entering and leaving berths of Liaoning Haihang Industry Co, which is wholly owned by Liaoning Baolai Corp.

These four ASD tugs will be used for escorting, pushing and towing ships and berthing operations.

Zhenjiang Shipyard was also building tugs for domestic operators, including Guangxi Beibuwan Port Tugboat Co, Shanghai Dayu Shipping, Baoshan Iron & Steel Co and Caofeidian Tugging Services Co, in Q1 2019.

On the other side of Asia, Ukrainian tugboat operator, builder and commodities shipping group Nibulon announced plans to boost its fleet with new tugs and non-self-propelled barges to 100 vessels overall.

It intends to construct new fleets of harbour tugs and pusher tugs in its own shipyard as it increases operations in Ukraine. Nibulon also intends to build non-self-propelled vessels of 10,000 tonnes, non-self-propelled vessels of open type, inshore boats and a non-self-propelled oil tanker. Construction on these vessels and tugs is expected to start in May this year.

Nibulon has finished three out of four POSS-115 project tugs and is building a self-propelled P-140 floating crane in its shipyard. Two POSS-115 tugs are already in service, while the third, Nibulon 10, completed sea trials in late April. A fourth vessel was being outfitted ready for delivery in Q2 2019.

Nibulon has built a series of four POSS-115 tugs and intends to build more in Ukraine

Svitzer contracted Sanmar Shipyards to construct five ASD tugs for its operations in Oman in Q1 2019. These were ordered after Svitzer secured a 15-year extension to its contract to provide marine services to Sohar Industrial Port Co.

To meet this requirement, Svitzer ordered three of Sanmar’s Bigacay-class tugs and two Sirapinar-class vessels. Bigacay vessels are based on Robert Allan’s RAstar 2900 SX design and will have 80 tonnes of bollard pull. The Sirapinar-class tugs will be based on RAmparts 2200 design with 50 tonnes of bollard pull.

As of 15 April, Sanmar had an orderbook of 16 tugboats. These are:

  • Five terminal tugs for Svitzer Sohar Oman.
  • Two icebreakers for Alfons Håkans.
  • Two tractor tugs for Bukser og Berging.
  • Two ASD tugs for Orkney Islands.
  • Two ASD tugs for UK operators (Ineos and Targe Towing).
  • Two tugs for Italian operators (Rimorchiatori Riuniti and Rimorchiatori Napoletani).
  • One ASD tug for PKL Flote.

Svitzer was in the market for two tug newbuildings for Egyptian operations after signing a 10-year agreement with the Suez Canal Port Authority on 28 March.

It requires ASD tugs with 70 tonnes of bollard pull to assist ships for terminal operations in Port Said and in the Suez Canal. These will boost Svitzer’s fleet in Egypt to nine vessels, including four other ASD tugs.

These newbuildings will need to be completed swiftly as the Suez Canal contract commences in July this year.

Elsewhere in Turkey, Uzmar secured a contract in March to build a 60-m multipurpose towage and oil spill recovery vessel for Kuwait Oil Co. This will be an ASD-type vessel, equipped for towing, area surveillance, offshore fire-fighting, logistics support duties and search and rescue around Kuwait.

TOR Group in Turkey is building three ship-docking tugs for the Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority for delivery by the end of this year. These were ordered, each with a pair of Cummins QSK 95 engines, to support increasing volumes of shipping traffic in the west African nation. These ASD tugs are being built to a RAstar 3300 design and Bureau Veritas class, with bollard pull of 80 tonnes and speeds up to 13 knots.

Med Marine in Turkey secured a contract from Briggs Marine and Environmental Services for a line-handling vessel for operations in the Humber Estuary, UK. This 14-m vessel is scheduled for delivery in October 2019.

Svitzer also ordered a fleet of tugs from Singapore-headquartered ASL Shipyard in March, according to BRL Shipping Consultants. These will be built with a pair of Caterpillar medium-speed 3516C main engines, each developing 2,584 kW of power, for Svitzer Australasia’s operations in Port of Geraldton, Australia.

These 30-m and 499-gt tugs will be built for delivery in May-July 2020. Svitzer ordered these tugs after securing a five-year extension to a towage services licence from Mid West Ports.

In Vietnam, shipyards are constructing six Rotortugs for Pilbara Marine’s towage requirements in Port Headland. It is also building three 499-gt tugs for Fortescue Metals Group for deliveries in Q2 2019.

In the United Arab Emirates, Drydocks World Dubai shipyard secured an order in Q1 2019 for a 27-m harbour tug from P&O Reyser. This asymmetric tractor tug will be built to a Cintranaval design for supporting ship operations in the Port of Barcelona, Spain from June 2020.

In North America, Gunderson Marine gained a contract from Overseas Shipholding Group for two articulated tug-barge units for delivery in 2020. Washburn & Doughty secured an order from McAllister Towage for an ASD coastal towage and escort tug. This will have a pair of Caterpillar 3516 Tier 4 engines and Schottel SRP 490 rudderpropellers.


Tug orders to 30 April 2019

  • 25 harbour tugs
  • Two ATBs
  • One salvage tug
  • 28 in total


Orderbook on 30 April

  • 236 harbour tugs
  • 12 tractor tugs
  • Nine ATBs
  • Nine conventional tugs
  • Four pusher tugs
  • Six salvage tugs
  • 276 in total

Source: BRL Shipping Consultants

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