How a two-pillar strategy was the secret to success in Cyprus
Vasiliko Terminal Services
VTS Vasiliko Terminal Services is a prominent marine services provider for Cyprus’ ports and terminals and is one of the leading providers in the Eastern Mediterranean region. You might remember the name from news of their collaboration with Damen Shipyards Group in July last year, when Vasiliko Terminal Services placed an order for the new ASD Tug 2310 and named it VTS Ayia Marina.
A new opportunity
The extraordinary story of the rise and expansion of VTS is one Damen has been privileged to witness first hand. In 2014, as the state-owned Cyprus Ports Authority began to withdraw from operating ports services, VTS was founded as the first private marine service provider in Cyprus. The company’s growth and operational success since then is testament to the evolution of the Cyprus Ports Authority management of marine protocols – something in which VTS chief executive Yiannos Lakkotrypis played a key role.
“It was difficult at the beginning,” says Mr Lakkotrypis. “As we were the first private marine service provider in the country, many rules, regulations and procedures were not in place. The system was not ready to accommodate us.”
The team at VTS – a veritable ‘who’s who’ of Cypriot marine lore including former director of Lavar Shipping Reginos Tsanos and tug master, pilot and COO Captain Stelios Christoforou – invested considerable time and resources into helping Cyprus Ports Authority establish protocols and procedures for the operation of marine services, and in the process positioned VTS as the leading provider of the region. “Traffic at the terminal has increased considerably, while in the meantime we have secured more contracts including the Vasiliko Cement Works, STS operations in the region, and servicing the oil majors in their drilling campaign in Cyprus EEZ,” confirms Mr Lakkotrypis.
The result is a point of pride for VTS, and also an example of how ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’ – not only for operators but also for manufacturers. VTS commissioned Damen to provide two ASD Tugs 3212 back in 2014 and expanded their fleet with the arrival of a third Damen ASD Tug in December 2018.
We really believe that through our Damen tugs and the quality of support provided by Damen, we have a considerable advantage over our competitors … In other words, we have invested in Damen, because we share the same values of quality, reliability and safety.
Expansion and optimisation
VTS ordered the ASD Tug 2310 for the improvements in efficiency it would bring to its Vasiliko port operations. “Vasiliko is a very challenging port in respect to manoeuvring,” says Mr Lakkotrypis. “It is a small port, with a turning circle of just 300 metres, and it takes a lot of experience and expertise from our pilots and crew to berth or unberth vessels.” This is where the ASD Tug 2310 comes into its own. “Its size, agility and flexibility will enable us to operate inside the port of Vasiliko efficiently.”
The ASD 3212 tugs have been the flagships of our fleet, the pride of our company and the tools that have transformed VTS as the leading marine service provider of the region. Not only have they exceeded operational expectations, but they have also acted as protection of our clients’ facilities and of the area of Vasiliko in general.
This in turn has a knock-on effect for other areas of the business; for example, one of the ASD Tugs 3212 could be easily replaced and released to perform STS operations. It’s not simply a question of capacity, but of strategic utilisation of resources. In an industry where safety and reliable performance are paramount, operating a robust fleet is invaluable.
The company’s vision goes beyond effective delivery. VTS prides itself on its contribution to the security and efficiency of Cyprus’ ports, and on the role it plays in the Mediterranean maritime industry. Mr Lakkotrypis recalls some specific instances in which VTS was able to demonstrate its commitment to its clients. “The vessel at the terminal that was saved under extreme weather conditions in 2015, the fire at the cement factory that was fought with the FiFi 1 capabilities of the ASD Tugs 3212s from over a kilometre distance in 2017, or the recent explosion of the vessel at the Vasiliko area that was salvaged by VTS Keryneia at the end of 2018 – these factors have established VTS as a leader and also as a company that caters for the social welfare and the environment where it operates.”
The critical focus
What’s the key to this success? Two main pillars: “People and equipment,” says Mr. Lakkotrypis. “We invest heavily in our people. We make sure that we provide all possible training and we believe that our personnel is our main asset. However, people would not be able to do anything without the right equipment.”
The philosophy has seen VTS demonstrate its capacity at both the Port of Vasiliko and the VTTV Oil Terminal Jetty, explains Mr Lakkotrypis,
I believe that the reliability and quality of service provided by VTS has played an important factor for the expansion of business in both of our clients.
Ultimately it is a shared success, brought about by excellent strategic client management and the development of a strong reputation through high quality service provision.
That returns us to the importance of common values and commitment to excellence. Mr Lakkotrypis is clear on his motivation, “Damen for us is a strategic vendor that actively participates in our business. The relationship we have built with them, coupled with their after-sales service and support left us with no other option than to enhance our arrangement. We did not want to take any risks or compromise quality.”
Such firmly-rooted collaboration not only keeps business on an even keel, but gives VTS a solid foundation upon which to build into the future. Mr Lakkotrypis is a keen proponent of the privatisation of Larnaca port, which would open up further opportunities for the business.
This vision, he explains, is a broad-scope perspective that goes beyond VTS’ immediate operations.
Besides the search for new markets, we really want to help our current customers increase, improve and develop their business further. This is something that will enable us to grow and expand.
With Mr Lakkotrypis at the helm, VTS looks set to play a pivotal role in the future fortunes of Cyprus’ marine services.