A tug for all seasons. Picton terminals’ first tug – an Icebreaking Stan Tug 1606
“The ice season here typically lasts for two or three months – from January until mid-March. This was the reason that we just had to have an ice-classed tug: to allow us to keep operating and delivering our product to customers,” says Hank Doornekamp, owner of Picton Terminals, located on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario. He is talking about his company’s newest asset – a Damen Stan Tug 1606 ICE called Sheri Lynn S.
Picton Terminals was initially established to ship Canadian iron ore to American steel mills on bulk carrier vessels that are better known in this part of the world as ‘lakers’. Since buying the port four years ago, Hank has been looking to develop the port further. “There’s a 70 foot face of limestone that we are taking down to a predetermined elevation to be able to more easily receive container vessels,” he explains. “And we have 30 feet of water here, which is staggering for anywhere on the Great Lakes.”
Most notably, though, this is a port development project that is actually creating its own revenue.
Compared to trucks, water transport is the cheapest form of moving products in this area. So we are processing the rock, putting it onto barges and shipping it out to various clients.
Scope of duties
And this is where the Sheri Lynn S shows her skills. “She works as an assist vessel for the larger barges. And for our next job – transferring stone for an airport runway extension contract – we will match her up to a smaller barge and work her as a pusher tug.”
As a matter of fact, the interview for this article was carried out while Hank was preparing for a barge push assignment. “We are loading a crane that we have rented – a 150-tonne Liebherr 120 – onto a barge here,” he states. “And our new Damen tug is going to push it the 30 miles back to the port. It’s a big piece of equipment that would have taken nine trucks to transport by road.”
Trust in construction
Looking at the highly competitive world of international shipbuilding, what made Hank approach Damen in the first place? “Well, I looked all over the Internet to see what options were available to us, including both new build and second-hand vessels. This was how I came into contact with Damen. I really like the lines and the features that they have. And of course availability is important. If you want to buy a tug here in Canada, you have two options. A second-hand vessel, which means it’s about 50 years old, or a new build, which takes about five years from ordering. We just didn’t have that time; Damen delivered the Sheri Lynn S within four and a half months.”
“I wasn’t involved in the construction process because of the trust in what I saw. So far this hasn’t been a problem.”
We have a list of outstanding issues which we are currently talking to Damen about but in general we are very happy.
Ice breaking services
The Sheri Lynn S marks an important step for Picton Terminals. “This is our first venture into owning a tug. Up until now we have rented our vessels when we have needed them. With our own tug, we can now turn that into revenue for ourselves.”
Indeed, the Sheri Lynn S is already proved herself in vessel assistance, barge pushing and occasional crew boat duties. And don’t forget her ice-classed hull too: “In terms of ice cover, this last winter was particularly severe, which actually worked out to our advantage as we could provide ice breaking services to other clients.”