GSS Marine tug completes marathon round-trip

Mon, 06 February 2017

A Damen Shoalbuster belonging to Rosyth-based GSS Marine Services recently completed a marathon 14,572nm round trip involving two crossings of the Atlantic Ocean.

The adventure for the Shoalbuster 2609 SMS Shoalbuster is perhaps not unusual in the world of towing but nonetheless worth a mention and an indication of the capabilities of such relatively small modern tugs. It is also reminiscent of early days of towing when modestly-powered tugs (compared with modern times) set out on long ocean tows not really knowing when they would return to home waters, the owners keen to ensure that as little as possible of its time at sea was without something following it on the end of the tow wire.

SMS Shoalbuster’s journey started when it sailed from Stathelle in Norway, commissioned to tow floating pipes to Porto Plata in the Dominican Republic, some 4,400nm distant. While underway, and with the opportunity of being available upon its arrival, the owner was offered a second job.

GSS is familiar with operating on the global stage and therefore quite happy to accept the assignment involving towing a backhoe dredger from the Dominican Republic to Vittoria in Brazil, 20 degrees south of the equator and 3,700nm distant. Once again, while the tug was at sea another opportunity arose to tow a crane barge from Vittoria to Setubal in Portugal.

Despite encountering bad weather in the Atlantic forcing a decrease in speed to protect the tow Setubal was reached safely from where it was a relatively short hop back to Rotterdam. The round-trip from Norway to the Dominican Republic to Brazil to Portugal and back to Rotterdam took six months with crew changes carried out at each stop.

Jan Peute, managing director of GSS Marine Services provided some background to how such voyages develop saying: ‘When the SMS Shoalbuster arrived in Porto Plata there weren’t any local tugs available for the Brazil job, creating an opportunity for us. And we were very pleased to get the crane barge towing assignment back across the Atlantic. But this is often the way it is in the towage sector; the brokers are always looking for tugs around the world.’

He also spoke about the performance of the Damen Shoalbuster adding: ‘On her return, aside from routine maintenance all she needed was a new coat of paint. There were no technical issues during her time way. The quality of the build really came through.’

As well as its UK offices, GSS also has a presence in Maassluis in the Netherlands and demonstrating its global activities, at the time of this announcement two larger Shoalbusters 3209 tugs Wil S and Liz F were involved in towage services in Venezuela and rock barge towing in Abu Dhabi respectively.

Source: Peter Barker

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