A total of five Damen Shoalbusters have recently been purchased from owners in the Netherlands for use in Australia.

A sixth UK owned vessel is also being transported south to work in the same sector, to support dredging and marine construction work for the oil and gas industry. All of the vessels are brand new or just a few years old and the deals were completed with little publicity, creating considerable speculation among those not directly involved.

Rohde Nielsen A/S, dredging, land reclamation and port construction specialists based in Copenhagen have purchased two Shoalbusters. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the acquisition of the brand new Shoalbuster 2308, Baloe 2, described in some detail in the July issue of MJ. The Dutch owners of Baloe 2, the Tug & Workboat Company Herman Sr, also sold the Tarka 3, a Shoalbuster 2709 completed in March 2010 as part of the same deal. Prior to the vessels leaving the UK the Danish buyer had the Baloe 2 and Tarka 3 repainted in their own livery and renamed Rimfaxe R and Skinfaxe R respectively.

A third tug, the brand new Laurie M, was also shipped to Australia aboard the same vessel. Owned by the Scottish company GSS Plant Ltd, the tug is a Shoalbuster 2609 ‘stock’ vessel purchased from Damen Shipyards at short notice. The vessel is 26.21m in length with a pair of Caterpillar main engines rated at 2,200 bhp (total) and a bollard pull of 28.3 tonnes. GSS Plant has interests in Australia and the new vessel will be used to serve their business in the area. All three tugs were loaded aboard the MV Grietje as deck cargo on 1 July in Rotterdam and the ship left the Netherlands bound for Australia a week later.

The other organisation keen to acquire Shoalbusters is Bhagwan Marine Pty Ltd, with headquarters in Dampier, Australia. Bhagwan Marine operates a diverse range of modern, high performance vessels to provide a wide range of support services to the oil and gas industry on the north west coast of Australia. The company recently purchased a completed ‘stock’ Shoalbuster 2709 from Damen Shipyards at Hardinxveld. This vessel ran trials bearing just its yard number and was subsequently renamed Bhagwan Houtman.

In common with other tugs of its type Bhagwan Houtman has a length of 27.02m, a beam of 9.10m and a depth of 3.60m. Two Caterpillar 3512B TA/A main engines generate a total of 3,000 bhp (2,238 bkW) to achieve a bollard pull of 40.2 tonnes and a maximum speed of 11.8 knots. The vessel left Rotterdam for Australia under its own power on 13 July.

Bhagwan Marine has also purchased Statum and Vigilant, a pair of Shoalbuster 3009 vessels operated by the Dutch family firm Rederij Engelsman Towage & Salvage BV of Makkum. Statum and Vigilant are identical sister ships built in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Both are vessels of 30.08m in length overall, with a beam of 9.10m and draft of 3.2m, classed for ‘Unrestricted navigation’. Two Caterpillar 3512B T/C main engines generate 3,344 bhp for a bollard pull of 45.6 tonnes.

Statum had already been operating on charter in Australia for some time, after making the voyage south under its own power. At the time of purchase, Viglant was operating off the African coast in Cameroon and will now sail to Australia un-aided. The new owners are to rename Statum and Vigliant, Bhagwan Statum and Bhagwan Vigilant respectively. Rob Engelsman, proprietor of Rederij Engelsman, who is well known in the dredging and marine construction industries, has revealed to Maritime Journal that he now intends to retire.

As previously mentioned, for another family firm, the Tug & Workboat Company Herman Sr, the sale of two important members of its three vessel fleet leaves them with the powerful Multi-Cat Yogi and a further newbuilding, the Shoalbuster Bommel, still under construction. The latter is scheduled for delivery by Damen Shipyard Hardinxveld at the end of the year. As previously mentioned in Tugs & Towing on more than one occasion, Jack van Dodewaard has previously worked closely with the shipyard in developing the Shoalbuster designs. Bommel is another example of that cooperation. The tug will be the first example of yet another variant, the Shoalbuster 2509.

Described as “a nice middle sized vessel designed to fulfil a need in the current market”, the tug will be almost exactly 25m in length and have a bollard pull of 25 tonnes. The hull and all major steelwork is almost complete in a Damen shipyard in Poland and will have been towed to Hardinxveld for fitting out by the time this feature is published.