UK towage company SMS Towage has purchased two tugs from Damen Shipyards. The first vessel, called Manxman, was handed over on 12 April, just seven days after contract signing. The contract for the second vessel, to be called Marksman, was signed on 1 May with a delivery date scheduled for 7 June. Both vessels are Damen ASD Tugs 2411, and mark the first Damen tugs for SMS Towage.
Established in 2002, SMS Towage started towage activities on and around the Humber Estuary on the UK’s east coast. Since then the company has expanded to take on permanent contracts in Belfast, Portsmouth, the Bristol Channel and South Wales.
Diverse duties on the Humber
“From Hull on the north bank, to Immingham on the south bank, these two vessels will play an integral role in our work on the Humber Estuary,” stated SMS Towage Chairman Paul Escreet.
The Humber Estuary is home to the larger Ports of Hull, Grimsby and Immingham and the petroleum and bulk terminals at Immingham. In addition, there are smaller terminals at Saltend and North Killingholme.
The Humber is a deep-water estuary that supports sizeable industrial developments that include petroleum and chemical plants, with raw materials for British Steel and Drax Power Station coming though the bulk terminals. The compact size and 70-tonne bollard pull of the ASD 2411 will make the two new tugs valuable additions to the area, especially considering the wide range of vessel assistance operations required.
Following its remarkably short delivery time, the 24-metre long Manxman carried out its first tasks performing harbour assistance work on the estuary as well as other coastal and specialist towage jobs. “In fact, the Manxman is currently on a coastal tow job with a 292-metre, 178,000 dwt bulk carrier,” added Mr Escreet.
A warm welcome to a new client
The Manxman and the Marksman represent the first Damen vessels in the SMS Towage fleet. “We needed additional tonnage and we were looking for a supplier who could deliver. To this end, Damen is one of the most innovative shipbuilders on the market. They really understand the operational process.”
Once the Marksman is delivered, the fleet will comprise 18 tugs, making SMS Towage the UK’s largest independent towage operator. Discussing the reasons behind this consistent growth of business, Mr Escreet pointed to a combination of customer focus and hard work. “We listen carefully to our customers in order to meet their needs and expectations. This philosophy has never let us down. And when we are pursuing new opportunities, it is also true that ‘the harder you work, the luckier you get.’”
“We are very happy to welcome SMS Towage as a new Damen client,” added Frederik van der Linde, Damen’s UK Sales Manager. “It is a proud feeling for us to be able to call a company with such an established track record one of the family of Damen vessel owners.”