Renewal Moroccan Harbour Tug fleet
Damen has traditionally played an important role as a supplier of vessels to the Moroccan towage sector where it has long-standing links with Société Chérifienne de Remorquage et d’Assistance (SCRA).
CRA, which was set up by a French operator in 1927 and taken over by the O’hana family in the early 1970s, has been a Damen client for more than two decades. Its entire 10-vessel fleet is composed of Damen-built tugs, including one dating from 1990.
The company, which is headed by Steve O’hana and has an annual turnover of €12 million, is based in Casablanca but is also active in the ports of Mohammedia and Jorf Lasfar. In late 2010, the company placed a new order for Damen tugs but in very different conditions from previous orders since the order for eight Damen Stan Tugs 2608 was placed jointly with its principal competitor, Offshore Maroc.
This development was the result of the Moroccan government’s 2006 port reform which led to the creation of concessions for tug operations at Moroccan ports. SCRA and Offshore Maroc formed joint venture companies to compete for the 20-year concessions, which also laid down conditions for tug operations at the ports.
One of the new joint venture companies, JL Tugs, won the concession for towage services at Jorf Lasfar and the other, Fedala Tug, the concession at Mohammedia. At Casablanca, however, SCRA and Offshore Maroc have separate operating concessions and so remain theoretically in competition, even though, in practice, they operate alternately under the supervision of the port authority.
Execution of the order for the new tugs is proceeding in an orderly manner. Five of the eight tugs have already been delivered and a sixth is due in Morocco from Vietnam shortly. The two remaining vessels are due to be delivered next year. Once the order has been completed, each company will have two new vessels in Casablanca, while their joint venture companies in Mohammedia and Jorf Lasfar will have two vessels each.
Both companies say that they are satisfied with the vessels they have received to date. Delivery schedules have been largely adhered to and the performance of the vessels in service has been up to expectation.
Ari Elmaleh, General Secretary of SCRA, described the Stan Tug 2608 as “effective, powerful, manoeuvrable and up to specification”, adding that the company would have no hesitation about ordering from Damen if it needed more vessels in future. “The company is very serious and their tugs are competitive. In addition, they are much sought after in the event of resale.”
Offshore Maroc General Manager Brahim Yacoubi, expressed similar satisfaction. He revealed that the company had, in fact, ordered Damen vessels when it was founded in 1985 as a joint venture with Smit International prior to being taken over by his family 10 years later. Subsequently, the company had switched to a Turkish supplier, he said, but had had no regrets about coming back to Damen which had proved “more competitive” in its response to the international tender issued for the order.
The vessels had matched the company’s expectations once brought into service, he said, adding, “Damen is very reactive when there are little problems. We are very happy with the after sales service.”