Boluda Towage has reported its part in the North Sea Port nautical partnership, handling the world’s largest container ship and a rebranding for one of its deepsea tugs.

It is a year now since Boluda Towage Europe completed its acquisition of Kotug Smit Towage thereby expanding its activities in Europe to include the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and the UK with an additional 67 tugs in its fleet.

The logistics behind managing port arrivals, cargo handling and departures for ships are complex involving an array of marine service providers including shiphandling towage contractors whose involvement in the chain is a vital part of what makes for efficient and safe port operations.

The Joint Nautical Authority is made up of Rijkwaterstaat and the Flemish Agency for Maritime and Coastal Services (Coastal Division) and along with North Sea Port and local nautical service providers has expanded and intensified its existing work agreements in the interest of greater efficiency and more reliable planning for the total nautical chain including ports.

This includes expansion of the existing management area of Ghent-Terneuzen Canal to include Sloe Haven (Vlissingen Oost) and Braakmanhaven (on the left bank of the Scheldt adjacent to Terneuzen). Local anchorages are also included in the new area and parties to the work agreements have also been expanded to include more specifically, boatmen.

Peaks in shipping activities can lead to inefficiencies with two elements to optimising collaboration, the ship, and the port. The ship is required to indicate its intended arrival and departure time while the port along with its nautical services providers supply the shoreside and afloat infrastructure.

Port planning for a ship’s visit involves different phases, the reliability and accuracy of which depend on data provided by those involved. This has been bolstered by introduction of a strategic planning phase where the chain partners can coordinate their long-term capacity planning responding to peak situations, poor weather, congestion, and delays.

Multraship Towage & Salvage is the other major tug operator in the area and along with Boluda is supporting the works agreements together with DAB-Loodswezen, De Eendracht, the Joint National Authority, Montis Mooring, North Sea Port, Regionale Loodsencorporatie Scheldemonden, Vereigde Bootlieden Terneuzen and Vlissingse Bootliedenwacht.

An indication of the scale of the shiphandling tug sector’s contribution is where Boluda recently assisted the movement of the world’s largest container ship at three stops on the north west Europe rotation of its maiden voyage, an operation involving eight tugs in total.

HMM Algeciras is vessel number one in a series of 12, 23,964teu capacity, 399m long container ships and was met by Boluda’s ASD tugs Rotterdam and VB Cheetah when it arrived at Rotterdam World Gateway Terminal at Maasvlakte 2.

Following Its stop at Hamburg, Boluda was again on hand to meet HMM Algeciras with the tugs Union Hawk, Union Pearl and Union Eagle which assisted it to the Noordzee Terminal in Antwerp.

The vessel’s final stop involving Boluda’s assistance, including a firefighting water display was DP World’s London Gateway Terminal where it was met by the RotorTug RT Evolution along with the ASD tugs SD Dolphin and SD Seal.

Congratulating HMM on its new addition, Boluda stated it was ‘delighted to be a part of the maiden voyage’ and while not exactly a scientific or representative analysis of the assistance provided this snapshot tells us that a total bollard pull of 642t was utilised with an average of 80.25t per tug. Seven ASDs and one RotorTug were involved, three of the fleet built by Armon of Spain and five from the ways of Damen Shipyards.

Final news from Boluda involves the rebranding of its 104tbp anchor-handling tug Bremen Fighter now displaying Boluda’s logo and company colours. Built in Germany in 2004 as the Primus for Harms Bergung Transport it was one of eight similar tugs from the same yard and in 2011, as Bremen Fighter came under control of Unterweser Rederi (URAG) which in turn became a subsidiary of Boluda Towage Division in 2017.

It was recently located to its base in Rotterdam (Boluda Towage Europe) and manned by the same crew is available for deepsea and offshore towage. At the time of writing AIS data indicated it to be in Rotterdam having previously been working in the UK sector of the southern North Sea.

By Peter Barker