Saturday, 25 February 2023 00:41

New exhibition: Building tugboats for abroad

EDGAR BONNET Fotobureau C. Kramer1From Tugs Towing & Offshore Newsletter (Hans van der Ster):

Foreign clients have always been of great importance to Dutch shipyards. This was and still is the case for towage. As early as 1884, a tugboat was built in the Netherlands for the English account, which was not scrapped until 1963. Further afield, as far as South America and Asia, the fame of tugboats built in the Netherlands was spread because the dredgers and barges for foreign harbor works were brought in by Dutch tugboats. Impressed, the foreign clients ordered such tugs for themselves. An example is the order in 1953 for the construction of the beautifully designed Edgar Bonnet, briefly the strongest tugboat in the world, for the Suez Canal Company. During the hostilities around this canal in 1956, the ship, still almost new, was sunk, then refloated by the Dutch and later put back into service under the less politically sensitive name Antar. The 1970s witnessed the enormous growth in the offshore industry. Dutch shipyards delivered a number of sturdy supply ships, because the weather conditions in the North Sea are often violent. In addition, standardization became the formula for success in the second half of the last century. Kommer Damen invented it and it meant serial construction of tugs both at his yards here and Bern IB049abroad. Closer to home, for Belgian, German, French and even Swiss clients, mainly inland waterway tugs and later many pusher boats were launched. The Bern (1923) is an example of an impressively strong Swiss paddle tug with a power that many ocean-going tugs could not match and was able to reach the Rhine as far as Basel with a number of loaded barges in tow. With beautiful photos and models, the temporary exhibition "Building for the Abroad" shows how from the very beginning with steam tugs to the high-tech tugs of today that can sail and tow fully electrically, it is clear that the Dutch shipyards play a prominent role in this branch of industry. The exhibition “Building for the Abroad” can be seen in the National Towage Museum in Maassluis from 25 February till 27 August 2023.