KOTUG International B.V. (“KOTUG”) announced today that it has concluded the acquisition of Kotug Seabulk Maritime LLC (“KSM”) taking full ownership of the business. KOTUG acquired the interest of its joint venture partner, SEACOR Holdings Inc. (“SEACOR”) via its Seabulk subsidiary KS Maritime Holdings LLC, owner of the 50% share in KSM.

Established in 1911, KOTUG is a premier, family-owned towage and maritime service operator that offers a variety of towing, subsea, and other marine-related services to customers worldwide. Presently, the fleet comprises more than 70 tugs and barges.

Ard-Jan Kooren, CEO of KOTUG, commented, “Together with Seabulk, we have developed KSM into a renowned, leading towage brand in the Caribbean. We are excited to take full ownership of the business and to continue offering essential support to Buckeye Partners Freeport operations for many years to come, with one of the region’s most modern and sophisticated fleets. Our operations are supported by an excellent team, with more than 93% of the staff being Bahamians, both in our offices and on board.”

Founded in 2017, KSM acts as the exclusive provider of maritime terminal support services for Buckeye Partners’ Bahamas Hub, which includes launch and line handling services. Buckeye Partners is one of the largest independent operators of liquid petroleum products pipelines and terminals in the United States and currently holds the sole operating license for all bunkering operations in Freeport harbor.

Dan Thorogood, CEO of Seabulk, expressed optimism about the transaction, stating, “This is an extremely positive outcome. Over the course of our decade-plus relationship, we not only integrated the proprietary Rotortug vessel into the KSM JV but also into the formerly owned Seabulk US-flag harbor towing fleet. KOTUG is a leader in towing innovation, and I can confidently say they are uniquely suited to carry the business forward and ensure the continuation of high-quality, customer-centric operations.”

KOTUG Canada holds steel cutting ceremony for two powerful, high bollard pull Methanol Fueled Escort Tugs for Trans Mountain Expansion Project

On 13 February 2024, KOTUG Canada Inc., a partnership between KOTUG International B.V. and Canada’s Horizon Maritime Inc., held a steel cutting ceremony for two RAsalvor 4400-DFM dual fuel methanol escort tugs – Robert Allan Ltd. design – to service the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP), at Sanmar Shipyard in Turkey.

A steel cutting ceremony is traditionally the first event in the shipyard production process. The steel cutting event signifies a major milestone for the project enabling it to proceed to the construction phase to meet the delivery schedule by mid-2025.

The tugs will escort tankers from the harbor limits of the Port of Vancouver to the open Pacific Ocean through the commercial shipping lanes of the Salish Sea. To provide this service, KOTUG Canada has partnered with the Sc’ianew First Nation from Beecher Bay, strategically located along the shipping route.

These two innovative tugs, to be named SD AISEMAHT and SD QWII-AAN’C SARAH in honor of important members of Sc’ianew First Nation, are scheduled to be the world’s first large purpose-built high bollard pull methanol fueled tugs when they enter service in 2025. They will provide significant environmental benefits by further reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and underwater radiated noise.

See the backgrounder for more information about the project and the vessel specifications.

A message from our CEO

Christmas is approaching and I think it is a good time to reflect on what we have experienced this year. While in the world we see that armed conflicts are not only not decreasing, but in fact increasing, bringing desolation and death to many homes, most of us must consider ourselves more privileged than ever. I hope that everyone in their own way can give something to those in need, to reduce the pain and suffering and to keep these people in our thoughts. Hopefully soon, we will be able to say that understanding the differences between people, and being tolerant, prevails over aggression and war.

With the recent COP 28 (28th annual United Nations (UN) climate meeting) held in Dubai, the international community emphasized the importance to accelerate our transition to lower greenhouse gas (GHG)-intensity energy to the world. KOTUG has consistently set the standard for creative and sustainable solutions in the maritime sector.

I am proud that with the deployment of the world’s first fully electric pusher boat and barges, along with the order for two Dual Fuel Methanol Escort Tugs, underlines our strong commitment to environmental responsibility. In 2024, we will continue our newbuilding program to build several future sustainable proof vessels. In addition to this, our industry and customers are actively seeking our sustainable and innovative solutions, exemplified by the growing demand for our Optiport tool, Subsea and Training services.

On the 22 May 2023, my father, Ton Kooren, founder of Kotug International and inventor of the Rotortug, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award bestowed by the prestigious maritime sector magazine, International Tug & Salvage. This was a remarkable recognition for his journey, and I am happy our family was able to share in this special occasion.

Ton Kooren receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The work and dedication of the entire KOTUG team have played a crucial role in the company’s continued success and expansion across the globe. A big thank you to you all!

With the ongoing integration of our companies, management systems and digitalization we will become an even stronger partner for our customers to exceed their expectations.

As 2023 draws to a close, I take this opportunity to thank all our partners and customers for their support and wish them the very best for the festive season and beyond.

Ard-Jan Kooren
President & CEO of KOTUG

KOTUG’s growth in Guyana accelerates with expanded fleet

KOTUG International B.V. through its 100% owned and operated affiliated company “KOTUG Guyana Inc.” strengthened its position in Guyana with the arrival of three (3) additional Offshore Terminal Tugs to support ExxonMobil Guyana’s offshore operations.

SD Power and SD Honour engaged in a tanker lifting operation at the Stabroek Field, Offshore Guyana South America

With the arrival of KOTUG-owned ‘SD Grace’, ‘Seaways 20’ and ‘Seaways 22’, KOTUG will operate a total of five (5) Offshore Terminal Tugs in Guyana.

The vessels predominantly provide support (“tanker lifting operations”) to the large crude oil tankers that are loading crude oil from the two producing FPSOs in the Stabroek field, offshore Guyana before transporting it to various refineries around the world. Other duties include hose-handling, fire-fighting, and oil spill response duties as well as pilot transfer duties in the field.

We appreciate the long term partnership with ExxonMobil. Our well-trained crews especially deserve credit for operating our vessels in a safe and professional manner” says Ard-Jan Kooren, CEO and president of KOTUG International.

KOTUG owns and operates the largest and most sophisticated fleet of Offshore Terminal Tugs, with the first vessel (SD Power) having started in 2021, followed by the second vessel (SD Honour) which commenced operations in August 2022 in Guyana.

All Offshore Terminal tugs are modern, powerful Azimuth Stern Drive (“ASD”) equipped with Dynamic Positioning Class 2 (“DP-2”) and double-ended control ability with winches placed forward and aft on the vessel. The tugs all have experienced crews, including Guyanese seafarers, which have been recruited and trained by KOTUG since the start of operations in Guyana in 2021.

All vessels are engaged in long-term agreements to support offshore production activities in Guyana.

E-Pusher 1 nominated for Ship of the year award 2023

We are proud to share that our E-Pusher 1, the result of an intensive partnership with Padmos, has been nominated for the ‘Ship of the year award’ 2023.

The E-Pusher 1 is the world’s first modular, zero-emission, fully electric pusher tug for barge combinations. The innovative concept aligns with our mission to provide sustainable and efficient solutions to the maritime industry.

The assembly construction of our E-Pusher 1 is revolutionizing ship building. Its modular concept and use of standard products make construction efficient and scalable, while its innovative design allows for easy replacement of damaged or outdated modules, significantly extending the boat’s lifespan.

The properties of HDPE allow for selection of the optimal hull space. Plus, by using HDPE the vessel is lightweight and has a draft that is far less than conventional pusher tug designs. The E-Pusher 1 is all about efficiency and sustainability.

The winner of the award will be announced during the Maritime Awards Gala 2023 on 6 November in Ahoy, Rotterdam.

Proud of our E-Pusher 1: Pushing the boundaries of sustainability

KOTUG Canada partners with Robert Allan Ltd. and Sanmar to build two powerful, high bollard pull Methanol Fuelled Escort Tugs

After a rigorous and competitive process KOTUG Canada (“KOTUG”) has selected Türkiye’s Sanmar Shipyards to build two RAsalvor 4400-DFM dual fuel methanol escort tugs – Robert Allan Ltd. design – to service the Trans Mountain Expansion Project (TMEP).

These tugs will escort tankers from the harbour limits of the Port of Vancouver to the open Pacific Ocean through the commercial shipping lanes of the Salish Sea. To provide this service, KOTUG Canada has partnered with Sc’ianew First Nation from Beecher Bay, which is strategically located along the shipping route.

These two innovative tugs, to be named SD AISEMAHT and SD QWII-AAN’C SARAH in honour of the Sc’ianew First Nation, are scheduled to be the world’s first large purpose-built high bollard pull methanol fuelled tugs when they enter service in 2025 and will provide significant environmental benefits to further reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and underwater radiated noise.

The relationship between Vancouver, BC based Robert Allan Ltd. and KOTUG dates back many years with KOTUG operating over a dozen Robert Allan Ltd. designed high bollard pull harbour and offshore ASD and Advanced RotorTug (ART) vessels internationally. Similarly, for almost thirty years, Sanmar Shipyards has been building industry leading high-quality tugs for Robert Allan Ltd. designs, including battery electric, LNG fuelled and tugs for the BC market.

Shipbuilding contract signing between KOTUG (Ard-Jan Kooren – Osman Munir Left) and Sanmar (Ali Gürün – Ipek Gürün Right)

“We are pleased to work again with Robert Allan Ltd. and look forward to our long-awaited cooperation with Sanmar, which is one of the leading tugboat builders in the world. I am proud that we continue our active green policy to provide sustainable towage services by building and operating two powerful high bollard pull methanol fuelled escort tugs” said Ard-Jan Kooren, President & CEO of KOTUG International and Executive Director of KOTUG Canada”.

“I am honoured to ink the contract of these unique first methanol fuelled new-build tugboats in the world. We have been building over the years the new generation of cleaner and greener tugboats to meet the environmental targets in the maritime industry, this is another very important milestone” said Ali Gurun, Chairman of Sanmar Shipyards.

“The RAsalvor 4400-DFM has been customized to meet the demanding operational and environmental requirements for this project.  As a company based in Vancouver where these vessels will be operating, we are keenly aware of the crucial role these escort tugs will play going forward.  We are gratified that KOTUG Canada has chosen to utilize these world leading tugs for such an important project in our own backyard.” said Michael Fitzpatrick, President & CEO of Robert Allan Ltd.

Tugboat details

The RAsalvor 4400-DFM escort tugs will measure 44 metres in length and are an evolution of Robert Allan Ltd.’s acclaimed escort tugs which operate in some of the harshest environments in the world. With over 115 tonnes of bollard pull they’ll be Canada’s most powerful escort tugs.

Both vessels will be equipped with a mechanical cross link system between the azimuth thrusters to enable a single engine to drive both propellers. They will also be equipped with main engine driven shaft generators to satisfy the vessel’s normal electrical needs. These features will allow the crews to optimize engine loading and significantly reduce fuel consumption and running hours of the main engines and gensets. Combined, these features will reduce the tugs underwater radiated noise, mitigating the effects of shipping on the Salish Sea’s Southern Resident Killer Whales. Additionally, KOTUG is having the hulls of both tugs coated with a graphene paint to reduce biofouling and enhance hull-smoothness which reduces underwater radiated noise and makes the vessels more fuel efficient. The escort tugs are equipped with firefighting equipment meeting the requirements of American Bureau of Shipping (ABS)’s FFV 1 notation and will have the largest spill response capabilities of any tugs on the BC coast to mitigate the risk of marine spills to the Salish Sea and communities from laden tankers as well as other commercial marine traffic.

High quality onboard equipment will include heavy duty electric winches fit fore and aft for reduced noise and to significantly reduce the risk of a hydraulic oil spill into the environment. The forward escort system has been customized to suit the requirements of the local pilots for tankers utilizing the TMEP. The aft towing system with a dual drum winch with 2 x 1,000 m of steel wire is among the largest fit to an escort tug and combined with the vessel’s exceptional manoeuvrability provides the capability to perform emergency towage of vessels along the route that may find themselves in distress.

Inside, the accommodation will include spacious dedicated cabins and ensuites for all regular crew, all with natural light, and well in excess of regulatory standards. To facilitate training and additional response capability, extra berths will be provided for use by Western Canada Marine Response Corporation (WCMRC) spill response technicians. Particular attention has been paid to minimize noise and vibration aboard the vessels, with a crew comfort (habitability) class notation to be assigned by ABS along with ENVIRO and SUSTAIN notations demonstrating the projects reduced environmental impact.

We encourage readers to stay tuned to our social media accounts for regular updates as these inspiring vessels come to life at Sanmar’s world class facilities.

RAsalvor 4400-DFM Dual Fuel Methanol Escort/Rescue Tugs