The arrival of a second Sanmar-built tug to MedTug SA for operation at Sines, Portugal has highlighted the choices for shipowners when selecting a tug operator.

'Med Antares' is one of two similar tugs operating for MSC in Portugal (Sanmar)

When, for example, a container ship calls at a major port it will typically negotiate with a tug service provider licensed by the port, the tug operator often independent from the port and ship owner itself. Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has been of note lately establishing partnerships with tug owners, also establishing its own tug operating arm MedTugs (not to be mistaken with other similarly named tug owners) operating at several ports where its ships call. There were reports previously that Maersk was similarly exploring employing Svitzer tugs (part of Maersk) when available for handling its own container ships.

Lekko Tugezine has reported the Damen ASD 2813 tug Orlando Onorato is now operating for MSC for its MedTug Antwerp operation. Meanwhile the port of Goia Tauro in Italy now has a 50/50 JV between MSC and the Scafi Group operating under the name of ConTug. MedTug Valencia, MedTug Rotterdam BV and MedTugs Las Palmas are recent additions with chartered and owned tugs appearing under the MedTug banner.

Two newbuilds are now in operation for MedTug Sines SA, MSC’s Portuguese operation mentioned above with the 2019-built Med Antares joining its 2017-built sister vessel Med Altair. Both are  RAstar 2800 ASD tugs launched as Sanmar Terminal XXIII and Sanmar Terminal XXI respectively and previously operating in Sanmar’s own fleet. Described as ‘state-of-the-art escort/offshore terminal tugs’ they feature a unique-to-class sponsoned hull form that enhances escort performance complemented by foil-shaped escort skegs. Sanmar states that roll motions and accelerations are less than half those of comparable sized ‘standard’ tug hulls.

An MTU/Schottel main engine and thruster combination develops a bollard pull of 75 tonnes (ahead and astern) while a dedicated Caterpillar C32 diesel provides fifi1 capability. Deck machinery includes a Data Hidrolik capstan and tow hook along with a Palfinger PK11001(M)A marine grade knuckle-boom/folding boom type crane. A high level of crew comfort meets flag state requirements of countries including Norway, Germany, Italy and the UK with resiliently-mounted engines and essential equipment including hydraulic pipes reducing noise. Two en-suite officers’ cabins are ‘above deck’ with three double cabins below.