New tugboat service will bring jobs to harbour
Waterborne traffic in Belfast Harbour is set to increase next month with the launch of a new tugboat service.
SMS Towage Limited has launched its new operation in an investment worth more than £5m.
The new service will start in October with two modern and highly-manoeuvrable tugboats – the ASD Irishman and ASD Masterman – capable of handling a full range of vessels. They will be manned 24 hours a day and provide what is known as a 'just in time' service for vessels received in the port, estimated at 5,000 every year.
Four members of the workforce will be coming to Belfast to train the new crew but no estimate was available of the number of jobs that will be created.
SMS Towage's managing director Patrick Lyon said the company's move to Northern Ireland was in response to a clear demand.
"We see Belfast as a strategic location," he said. "It is a vibrant port that will be home to a purpose-built cruise terminal and a new offshore wind terminal."
A spokesman for Belfast Harbour said: "Towage services are an integral part of the port's operations and Belfast Harbour is open to those firms which provide a professional, safe service.
"Both tonnage and the size of the average ship calling at Belfast have grown in recent years and towage services continue to evolve to meet the needs of port users."