SMS Towage moves into Portsmouth

SMS tug 'Irishman' at sea SMS tug 'Irishman' at sea
Industry Database

Portsmouth International Port and Hessle-based SMS Towage Ltd have launched a dedicated towage service for commercial ships using the UK south coast port.

Portsmouth is perhaps best known as a base for the Royal Navy, it also has a busy commercial side including ferry services to France and Spain and as a base for its fruit importing and handling business, MMD Shipping, which recently announced the appointment of a new business development manager.

It is the commercial side of Portsmouth to which this arrangement applies and requires the presence of two tugs, available to attend ships with as little as two hours’ notice. The arrangement was expected to lead to the creation of 10 new jobs for SMS at Portsmouth.

Rupert Taylor, Portsmouth International Port's harbour master, said: ‘We're very pleased that our customers will now have a dedicated towage service when using the port. It enables us to provide greater resources for commercial shipping companies.’ Commenting on the news, Gareth Escreet, director at SMS Towage said: ‘Our expansion onto to the south coast is an exciting time for our business and we will be looking to recruit additional dedicated crew to help provide the new service who will be trained to operate in the waters around Portsmouth.

‘We pride ourselves on providing one of the most responsive services in the business and this has been a key factor in enabling us to grow. We are fully committed to our entry into Portsmouth and are confident that it will prove successful for both our company and the port.’

Two tugs with interesting histories have been allocated for the contract at Portsmouth. Irishman and Guardsman are two of three similar ASD tugs now in SMS ownership (the third Yeoman) built by Imamura Shipbuilding in 1989 and 1991 respectively as Tsing Yi and Kwai Chung and part of the then extensive fleet of Hong Kong Salvage & Towage.

The two LR-classed, 24m tugs are powered by twin Niigata 6L25CXE main engines turning driving Niigata ZP-2A Z-peller thrusters producing in total 3,000bhp at 750rpm and performance figures of 40tbp and speed 12.5kn. Each vessel has an electro-hydraulic single drum towing winch forward and 45t SWL towing hooks aft.

SMS Towage has its roots in deep-sea towage and the North Sea oil industry which provided its founder Paul Escreet with the background to establish the company in 1992. The Humber region provided the business opportunity for the harbour towage side and expansion followed with the setting up of a three-tug operation in the Bristol Channel in 2012 for Associated British Ports. The following year SMS expanded into Belfast Harbour at the request of port owners and with Portsmouth added to the portfolio it is clearly in the market for expansion.

By Peter Barker

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