This month’s subject matter comes in the form of a newbuild delivered to Fairplay Towage via Damen Marine Services (DMS). The lease contract with DMS was signed on 27th October with delivery of the vessel possible at very short notice. The speed was thanks to Damen Group’s practice of building certain examples of its tug classes (and other work vessel types) speculatively to hold in stock or in the charter fleet until a customer is identified. The standard vessel can then be hastily fitted out to any custom requirements and handed over, ideal for any operator that is rapidly expanding due to contracts secured or a situation where a member of a working fleet is suddenly unavailable. This particular vessel, a Damen ASD 2312 tug, was subsequently placed on the ship register on 1st November 2022 and was delivered to DMS at Damen’s Song Cam Shipyard in Haiphong, Vietnam on 3rd November. The keel had been laid back on 9th August 2021 and launching came on 7th September 2022. The name Navigator had already been bestowed upon her prior to the deal being signed with Fairplay Towage just prior to the tug leaving the shipyard, so she departed on the long delivery voyage on 4th November under this identity. The trip went via the Suez Canal with stops being made for bunkers along the way. Arrival in Rotterdam was 29th December 2022 and renaming to Fairplay-93 took place on 5th January 2023, along with a reflagging to The Netherlands. The lease contract had been formalised on 27th November and bollard pull tests were carried out on 2nd January 2023 in the Calandkanaal, Rotterdam, before the vessel moved to the Heysehaven at the De Haas Rotterdam Shipyard, where she was transferred to Fairplay Towage BV and repainted in their colours. Now based at the Merwehaven, one of the Fairplay-93’s first working assignments was assisting Jumbo Shipping’s 15,022gt/2004-built heavy-lift ship Fairpartner on 15th January. The very first ASD 2312 tug was the 266gt/2020-built Jupiter, Yard No. 513601, built for Towing Service B. Iskes. This vessel is now the Svitzer Jupiter.

Time Lines

Fairplay Towage can trace its routes back to 1866 when the Bugsier name began trading as Vereinigte Bugsier-Dampschiff-Gesellschaft with the Fairplay Towage Group being formed in 1905 in Hamburg. The Schuchmann family from Bremerhaven acquired most of the shares of Bugsier Reederi und Bergungs AG in 1926 and the company entered into the wordwide deep sea towage sector with the Fairplay X in 1967. In 1974 Fairplay ordered the first state-of-the-art Schottel Tractor Tug, the first of 4 delivered 1975-1984 and established an operating base in Rostock in 1990. In 1997 6 ASD-Schottel tugs with a 52t-65t bollard pull were ordered and commissioned 1998-2001 whilst port towage operations in Rotterdam began in 1998. Bugsier began serving the port of Bremerhaven in 2003 and the company centenary was celebrated in 2005. Fairplay Towage established itself in Szczecin, Poland, in 2006 and expansion in that country saw all operations operate under Fairplay Towage Polska from 2015. On 8th November 2017 Bugsier Reederi und Bergungsgesellscaft merged with Fairplay whilst retaining the trading identity of Bugsier and in 2020 a new operation was established in Las Palmas under the name Odiel Towage, thus opening a new avenue of opportunity in Spain.

At the time of writing, Fairplay Towage managed a fleet of 105 tugs in a variety of classes within the towage operations of Fairplay and Bugsier. The vessels are a mixture of harbour and sea-going tugs, including Schottel-ASD (azimuth stern drive) tugs, tractor tugs, single and twin-screw tugs, combination tugs, sea-going tugs, pusher boats, emergency tugs and tractor hybrid tugs. Each task places different demands on the tug fleet. Always needing to be ready for operation, Fairplay Towage has a strict internal repair and maintenance programme. It is not just the overhaul of main engines, auxiliary diesel engines, gearboxes or hydraulic systems which are part of this routine, but also the constant checking of the corrosion protection and paint coats.

The contract for this Damen ASD 2312 tug marked the third contract that Fairplay Towage had concluded with Damen within a period of 18 months, encompassing a total of 4 vessels. The newbuild Shoalbuster 2711 with Ice class 1D notation, namely the 253gt/2022-built Fairplay-37, was delivered to the Group on 13th October (based in Gdynia) and a pair of RSD 2513 tugs, the 353gt/2023-built Fairplay-90 and Fairplay-91, were due for delivery from the Damen Song Cam Shipyard in January 2023.

This location was also the Fairplay-93’s birthplace, a 43-hectare shipyard located in Haiphong City, Thuy Nguyen district in Vietnam. Construction of the site started in August 2011, and the first phase of the 3-phase shipyard development project was officially commissioned in March 2014.

The yard is owned by Damen Shipyards (70%) and Song Cam Shipyard (30%), a subsidiary of Shipbuilding Industry Group Vietnam (Vinashin). The joint-venture is for a minimum duration of 40 years. The yard employed approximately 800 people, which increased to 2,500 people when the remaining two phases became fully operational, increasing the number of vessels that could be built per annum to 80, subject to type.


The yard offers services including outfitting of tugs, fast crew suppliers, high-speed craft, service vessels and other types of workboats. Initially it carried out the outfitting of hulls provided by other Vietnamese shipyards, including Song Cam Shipyard in the first phase before evolving to building hulls on site up to 60m in length. Up to 500m of the shipyard is located adjacent to the River Cam. Newbuilds are launched via a syncrolift supplied by Rolls-Royce, which has a maximum lifting capacity of 2,500 tonnes. The covered outfitting hall is 120m-long and 85m-wide and is equipped with three overhead cranes with a capacity of 25 tonnes each.

Navigating Around Port

The 263gt/2022-built Fairplay-93 is employed on ship handling duties in the port of Rotterdam and is 22.81m long with a 12.03m overall beam and a 5.40m maximum draught. The displacement is 485 tonnes and the freeboard is 500mm. The ASD Tug 2312 (2312) draws on proven technology from the Damen portfolio, including the successful ASD Tug 2813, a vessel exemplary in compact versatility and the 2312 offers almost the same functionality as its larger sister, the 2813. The 2312 is also based on the design of the ASD Tug 2411, a frontrunner in compact towage that has become an industry benchmark. Since introducing the 2411 model in 2004, Damen Group has delivered more than 110. The 2312 offers a clean deck with a centrally located double drum winch for working a towline over either the fore or aft deck with ease. Located beneath the deckhouse, the winch is designed by Damen Winch Technology and built by Damen Marine Components. Applying the Damen philosophy of standardisation, the winch offers reliability and easy, fast maintenance and is full flame zinc-coated with an epoxy paint system on top and features just two grease nipples. All rotating parts have 5,000 hours of lifetime. The winch is combined with a solid, variable speed, high torque hydraulic drive system enabling the captain to haul and veer the towing line at the highest speed possible for the force applied. The double drum can pull up to 35 tonnes and has a speed of up to 40m/min on second layer and 175 tonnes brake holding force. Paramount to safe operation are good, predictable handling characteristics, along with extreme stability that are courtesy of the vessel’s low profile and wide-beam combined with a patented Twin Fin skeg design. Other safety features include the wheelhouse being glazed with high impact resistance (cat. P3A) shatterproof glass, the firefighting system for the 2312 is a main engine driven pump, 1200 m3/h or 2400 m3/h (FIFI 1) with the monitors mounted aft of the wheelhouse, and the hull anti-fouling is tin-free with a 5-year life span. The towing bitt is positioned before the rudders in order to ensure good manoeuvrability when towing over the aft deck and the bulwark is 1.1m in height for added crew safety. The accommodation deck is located beneath the wheelhouse and houses a pair of double crew cabins and single cabins for the Chief Engineer and Captain. On the starboard side is the messroom and pantry for the crew of 6. The accommodation is MLC 2006 compliant and is completely insulated and finished with durable modern linings, an acoustical ceiling in the wheelhouse and floating floors. The sanitary facilities are on the Main Deck and the switchboard is at Below Main Deck level. The layout promotes the presence of natural light as an important factor in making the crew feel at home and, at the same time, darkening curtains are provided to ensure sleep is possible during daytime when shifts or circumstances dictate. The superstructure is resiliently mounted on the hull, which means noise and vibration are reduced to an absolute minimum for maximum onboard comfort.

At Below Main Deck Level, the second of 5 deck levels, is where the storage tanks for fuel, water etc can be found (located forward in one third of the area) along with a dry store, tech space and the Engineer’s Workshop. The aft section of this level (around two thirds) is populated by the machinery spaces, the largest pieces being the pair of Caterpillar 3512C TA HD/D, 4T and V12-cylinder marine diesel engines. These operate at 1,800rpm with a combined output of 3,804kW/5,168 horsepower.

The bore of each engine is 170mm, the stroke is 215mm, the displacement is 58.16, the unit length is up to 2,465mm with a maximum height of 2,222mm, a maximum width of 2,037mm and a minimum dry weight of 7,488kg.

The ASD Tug 2312 is noted for its rapid acceleration and deceleration for a tug that offers up to 70 tonnes of bollard pull. Two Caterpillar C4.4 TA, 400 V, 103kVA , 82 kW/125hp diesel generators are also installed and a 12m3 long range fuel tank is located outboard of each main engine. The 3512C power units drive two 360-degree azimuthing stern drive propellers in nozzles, each with a propeller diameter of 2,800m, stainless steel inner rings and on/off clutches. These Kongsberg Maritime solid thruster units have an overall diameter of 5,000mm and the propeller blades are of the Kongsberg Maritime US 205 type. The FiFi-1 fire extinguishing system pump is also located in the engine room, driven from the main engines, and can spray up to 1400m3 of water per hour. The engine exhaust is treated via a Damen SCR system, the engines are IMO Tier III compliant and the operating speed is 12.5 knots. Besides a 70 tonnes bollard pull ahead, a 65 tonnes bollard pull astern is also in the tug’s capabilities.

Details of any formal naming ceremony for the Fairplay-93 were not available at the time of writing.


Special thanks must go to Sander Vandenblink (Technical Superintendent at Fairplay Towage BV), Piet Sinke and Ingrid Bruggeman-Bussching for their invaluable help with information, diagrams and images.


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