The pulling power of shared values
Multraship Towage & Salvage
Multraship Towage & Salvage
Damen is privileged to work with a number of families in the Netherlands whose involvement with ships and the sea stretch back across multiple generations. One of the oldest of all is the Muller family, which can trace its maritime heritage back over more than 230 years. Its specialisation in towage and salvage dates back to 1911, and today the management of Multraship Towage & Salvage is in the hands of the fourth generation. Based on the River Scheldt, Multraship Towage & Salvage has its headquarters in the harbour city of Terneuzen and operates in the ports around the Scheldt estuary at Zeeland Seaports and the ports of Ghent and Antwerp as well as the Bulgarian Port of Burgas on the Black Sea. Growth has been largely organic, plus the occasional carefully chosen acquisition and strategic partnership.
Over the past five years, Multraship has purchased ten vessels from Damen, but the relationship goes back to the 1970s from where the Muller family has grown to the important position that it occupies today in Damen’s client network. Multraship is investing at a time when they see potential for the expansion of their current activities. While consolidation continues to take place among the larger towing and salvage companies, the directors of Multraship believe that there remains room for niche operators to prosper. The company has a solid base in its operations in the River Scheldt and its harbour towage business in the Black Sea continues to do well. Its new assets will help it to consolidate its market share in these areas and also give it the capacity for further expansion when the right opportunities arise.
“We aim to provide quality rather than quantity,” says Managing Director Leendert Muller. “Providing our clients with the best possible service is paramount, and this is one of the ways in which we mark ourselves out from our competition. We also have the advantage of a highly compact management structure that gives us short and personal communications, and enables us to make decisions quickly. We also set out to treat our clients more as business partners rather than customers.”
The fact that many of Multraship’s clients have been with them for many years is evidence that this approach works well, and it also extends to the way that they work with their suppliers as the long relationship with Damen demonstrates. To maintain this momentum, Multraship’s most recent purchases from Damen include tugs, launches and crew tenders. Following the delivery of two ASD Tugs 2810 in 2013, the company took delivery of a third in early 2015. Looking for a fast delivery, Multraship decided to trial an ASD Tug 2810 Hybrid that was available in stock. A new design, this was only the second vessel of its class to be built, but the timing was good with Multraship happy to explore the potential offered by fuel-efficient technology.
The ASD Tug 2810 is a unique concept, featuring a diesel-direct, diesel-electric and battery powered propulsion system. This hybrid configuration is expected to lower fuel costs by up to 30% and emissions by up to 60%.
At the end of 2014 Multraship also ordered two Damen ASD Tugs 3212, which are currently being built at Damen Song Cam Shipyard in Vietnam for delivery before the end of the second quarter of 2015. These two, state-of-the-art ASD Tugs will operate for Multraship as sister vessels to the 83 tonnes bollard pull Multratug 19, which was built by Damen in Romania and delivered in 2012. As the launch customer of what was then a completely new design, Multraship was heavily involved in the specification and testing of Multratug 19. The recent order for two further vessels shows the success of the first.
Based on the River Scheldt, the ASD Tugs 2810 and 3212 will be capable of handling the largest container vessels afloat today and into the foreseeable future. Their excellent sea-keeping behaviour, superb manoeuvrability and outstanding towing characteristics will ensure that Multraship can give its customers the support and service that they require. The purchase of the vessels also helps fulfil the company’s objective of achieving a higher level of standardisation across its fleet, and the efficiencies that come with it.
In harbour operations
Early 2015 also saw Multraship take delivery of two Stan Launch 804s plus a Stan Tender 1905 for operation by its boatmen service subsidiaries Verenigde Bootlieden B.V. and Montis Mooring. The Stan Launch 804s were heavily customised to meet the changing needs of the customer base, with over a year taken to get the design just right.
Named Montis 5 and VB2 respectively, they deliver excellent manoeuvrability and flexibility for working in confined spaces, together with the extra power to work as a tug with a pusher bow. The standard bollard pull has been increased from 1.4 tonnes to 3.2 tonnes by more than doubling the installed power to 182 Kw, adding a 900mm nozzle propeller plus an 11 Kw bow thruster.
Other features include limiting the air draught to a maximum of 2.75m so that the vessels can escape under open pier structures if necessary, adaptations to enable the handling of heavy mooring lines on large seagoing ships and the installation of a capstan with a pull force of 750 kg.
When asked why the relationship with Damen has worked so well, Leendert Muller attributed it to shared values. “We are both family companies with similar attitudes towards giving our customers the best possible service over the long term,” he commented. “Damen also understands what we need from our ship builders. Its policy of building for stock enables them to achieve the short delivery times that are often very important to us. Its proven designs and high quality construction ensure that their vessels deliver the performance and reliability that are central to our business. We are very happy with what they do.”
Looking ahead, Mr Muller is optimistic about the future. “Things are picking up now, though it may take a few years to fully recover,” he says. “We look forward to increased traffic, leading to growth for everyone.” Given Multraship’s continued investment in its fleet, it should be well placed to take advantage of the opportunities that will undoubtedly come its way.