Skip to Content

Ship Assist And Escort Business Stable Despite Changing Economy (2003)

Excerpts from an interview with American Tugboat Review

By Rob Grune, VP, Crowley Marine Services

All signs show that the tugboat business on the U.S. West Coast will remain relatively stable over the next several years. The downturn in the global economy has affected the ship assist and escort business and until there is a turnaround in the overall economic situation of the U.S. and abroad, those in the know dont expect to see a tremendous upturn in business.

Despite what some may view as a lukewarm outlook, Crowley has continued to make big investments in its assist and escort business over the past six years by building 13 state of the art tractor-type tugs costing approximately $150 million. The newest of these tugs is the Response.

The new tugs in conjunction with Crowleys existing high-horsepower conventional tug fleet put the Company in a good position to benefit from any upturn that may occur. Crowley is dedicated to the business of ship assist and tanker escort on the U.S. West Coast and believes that the investment in equipment will pay off over time.

Crowley customers, which are already quality and safety conscience, are becoming even more so. Whenever and wherever they need tug assistance they want to ensure that they have the best tug equipment along with the most qualified and highly trained crews available. It is the companys belief that the customers increased awareness when it comes to quality is due to several factors:

 The customers customers are calling for reliability in service thus delays in port are not an option;

The federal, state and local government scrutiny is getting even more diligent

They realize that quality and safe operations is just good business.

Looking ahead, Crowley predicts that the market will continue to be competitive. The tug companies that will succeed will be those that are able to control their costs while at the same time are giving the customer a high quality product at a fair price. Ships are getting bigger and the requirements for assisting and escorting those vessels are getting more stringent.

Crowley believes that they have made the investment in its people through ISO 9000, ISO 1400, ISM, RCP and STCW certification, in its equipment by operating some of the most sophisticated ship docking and ship escort tugs in the world and in its customers by listening to their needs and striving to meet their requirements. Through these investments, the Company has put itself in a position to be successful in meeting the needs of the marketplace for many years to come.