A vital service
Rederij Noordgat Towing and Salvage was founded in early 2000 and operates as an independent Dutch towage and salvage company.
It is based on the island of Terschelling, one of the Wadden islands in the north of the Netherlands. Terschelling’s location provides it with an ideal strategic base from which to offer assistance to vessels as they traverse the crowded shipping lanes near the ecologically fragile Wadden islands. Over the years, Terschelling has been the base for a number of renowned salvage companies such as Doeksen Salvage and Rijf Salvage.
Since its formation, Rederij Noordgat has successfully undertaken a variety of challenging Salvage jobs. It’s core activities comprise salvage, and sea and harbour towage. It operates a fleet of two tugs and three fast-rescue craft, ranging from 450 hp up to 3,300 hp and incorporating state-of-the-art towage, salvage and fire fighting equipment. The tugs provide assistance to vessels adrift and aground, and they are perfectly equipped for fire fighting and salvage duties. The versatile fast-rescue craft can perform a variety of salvage jobs – their manoeuvrability making them the perfect choice for diving operations. As the vessels are on 24-hour-a-day standby, they are able to assist merchant, fishery and pleasure vessels in distress in the North and Wadden Seas at any time, and under all weather conditions.
Managing director, Simon Smit outlines the company’s strengths: “We operate a very fast service and we thrive in unusual situations that are par for the course in the salvage industry. If a ship has to be abandoned, we are the first company that can arrive at the scene. Whenever ships find themselves in any kind of distress in the North Sea they can call us and within half an hour our fast rescue boat will have left the harbour, picking up spares from the nearest port and travelling at a speed of 30 knots. This kind of fast response is what sets us apart in the salvage trade.”
The company offers a full towage and salvage service, as Simon explains: “We have vast capabilities within our business – we can carry out fire fighting, rescue towing, and we have pumps on board to assist sinking ships or platforms. Additionally we have a very good relationship with Svitzer Salvage. Whenever our salvage services are required, Svitzer has the personnel and necessary equipment on standby, and we have the tugs, so we have a very close partnership with them. Together we carry out big salvage operations, of which there are between one and five in any given year, so our continued collaboration with Svitzer Salvage is crucial to providing this vital service.”
So essential is the service that the Dutch government is one of Noordgat’s main customers. “The government owns a lot of measuring points in the North Sea,” explains Simon. “We carry out the transport of maintenance crews and spares to these areas. We also work on government-funded projects; as the wind industry is a growing business in the Netherlands, we often serve energy companies’ towing needs as they build wind farms. We are currently negotiating with one company to establish a small fixed contract to transport a maintenance crew to an unmanned platform north of our island, and thereafter we will be on 24-hour-a-day standby to provide assistance in case an emergency situation arises.”
In February 2008, Noordgat expanded its fleet with the founding of the MV Friendship Offshore. In collaboration with Rederij Bakker and JJ Meerkerk, the company bought and converted the 40 metre ship to a salvage vessel. The Friendship was fitted with extra winches and hydraulic equipment, as well as high tech underwater camera and lighting systems to enhance its salvaging capabilities. By the end of April 2008, the Friendship was ready to set sail. With a bunker capacity of 74 tonnes, the vessel can locate and salvage cargo, anchors and/or anchor chains, as well as anything else that may be lost overboard. To date she has recovered many tonnes of ferrous and non-ferrous metals from the seabed.
The vessel is already gaining a strong reputation in the sector; in August 2008 she was contracted by Svitzer Salvage to recover three 18MT boiler elements, which were lost by the cargo vessel, RMS Goole. Within five days all the boiler elements had been located and safely transported to the port of Eemshaven without any damage. Then in January 2009, the vessel located and salvaged the last of 11 containers that were lost overboard at the IJmuiden approach in the north of the Netherlands, within 48 hours.
Finally, Simon outlines the company’s projected future development: “We are a small business with a very small overhead, so we still see plenty of opportunities within the industry. The financial crisis is a factor to consider, but as we provide a vital service in the offshore sector, the global economic situation doesn’t directly impact on our company. Having said that, we are waiting to see how the recession develops before we expand the fleet further. For the moment we are upgrading our current vessels, but we are looking to progress the business as soon as possible.”
Services: Towage and salvage operations