Smit Internationale NV, the giant Dutch tug company has completed purchase of Minette Bay Ship Docking Ltd in Prince Rupert, BC.
Smit was a partner in Smit and Cory International Port Towage Ltd, owners of Eastern Canada Towing Ltd in Halifax, from 1973 to 1989. They had no North American interests for several years until they entered the west coast of Canada towing market with the acquisition of Rivtow Straits and Westminster Towing in 2000. [They did maintain an office in Houston for their deep sea towing and oil field work.]
After the Rivtow purchase Smit had a presence in Prince Rupert and began providing ship berthing at the new container terminal there (a direct competitor for Asian traffic with the port of Halifax.)
Minette Bay has three tugs, the new T.P.3, built in 2007 with 6000 bhp and the sisters S/VM TP1 and S/VM TP2, built in 1970 and rated at 3560 bhp. All are considered to be ASD type tugs, although only T.P.3 might be considered conventional.
T.P.3 was built by Nichols Bros in Freeland, Washington. Her delivery was delayed by the bankruptcy of the builders, but she was finally handed over in March 2009 after they were rejuvenated. She is a near sister of two tugs built for Baydelta of San Francisco by the same yard, designed by Jensen Marine, and a state of the art tug with fire fighting capability.
Minette’s other two tugs, were built as test platforms for the St.Lawrence Seaway authority, hence their names S/VM denoting Seaway/ Voie Maritime and TP meaning test platform. They were actually built as barges, with notches and mooring arrangements to attach to the bow and stern of ships, to assist then through the Seaway locks. After a period of testing, the platforms were decommissioned - bow thrusters were becoming common on ships and did not require complex tethering and control mechanisms.
Minette Bay bought the platforms and trucked then to Prince Rupert, where they were incorporated into new tugs, with the ASD drives in line at the bow and stern. [Although known as TP1 and TP2 their official names are still S/VM TP1 and S/VM TP2, but will likely change under Smit proprietorship.]
Minette Bay provides ship berthing at the Ridley Island Coal Terminal in Prince Rupert and at Kitimat, about 150 miles away. Smit has recently entered in to an agreement with the giant dredging and port terminal operator Bos Kalis Westminster, in which it will be a an independent subsidiary, and will likely expand its reach well beyond its current wide scope.
see Smit's website for more on their operations