22 November 2016

Including two transatlantic crossings

The SMS Shoalbuster, a 26-metre Damen Shoalbuster 2609 owned and operated by GSS Marine Services based in Rosyth, Scotland, has recently completed a 14,572 nm round trip that included two transatlantic crossings. The Shoalbuster range is designed as a multi-role workboat optimised for shallow waters, however its high bow and sturdy construction means that it is capable of handling even ocean crossings.

When the SMS Shoalbuster departed Stathelle, Norway, earlier this year, no-one realised that she would be gone for so long or sail so far. At the time, she was on charter to tow some floating pipes to Porto Plata in the Dominican Republic, a distance of 4,400 nm. However, while she was underway GSS was offered a second job. This involved towing a backhoe dredger from the Dominican Republic 3,700 nm to Vitoria, 20 degrees south of the equator on the coast of Brazil. No stranger to international assignments – GSS has vessels operating in the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean and Russia – the company accepted the job.

Damen Shoalbuster 2609 owned and operated by GSS Marine Services based in Rosyth, Scotland.

Again, fortune was with them as a third contract came in while the Shoalbuster was at sea, this time towing a crane barge from Vitoria to Setubal in Portugal. On this leg they met some bad weather in the Atlantic, forcing them to slow down so as to protect the crane on the barge, but aside from that all was well. From Setubal it was then a relatively short trip back up to Rotterdam. In all, the SMS Shoalbuster was away for six months, with crew changes at each stop.

“We had a lot of luck,” says Jan Peute, managing director of GSS Marine Services. “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.”

“I am very happy with the way the SMS Shoalbuster performed,” he continued. “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.”

In addition to the SMS Shoalbuster, GSS Marine Services also operates two of the larger Shoalbuster 3209 class as part of its 17-strong workboat fleet. Its most recent acquisition, the Wil S, was delivered in April this year and is now providing port towage services in Venezuela. Her sister-ship the Liz F meanwhile is operating from Abu Dhabi, towing rock barges between the Oman and the emirate.

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