In an enormous region such as the Americas with trade centres located far apart and long transport routes, cargo must be handled efficiently to ensure robust economic growth and a stable network for foreign trade. SAAM’s fleet of 151 tug boats is the largest in the Americas, making the company the ideal partner for cargo operations reaching into Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Chile and Uruguay. A currently planned acquisition will extend the area of operation to Colombia and Honduras.
This is a far cry from when SAAM began operating in 1961. Over six decades ago, it was a business with one tugboat based in Valparaíso, the first port city of Chile, just 150 km from its capital, Santiago, which has seven million inhabi tants nestled between the snow-capped Andes in the east and the Chilean Coastal Range to the west. Today, the company has grown into an international provider of trade network services. Its three main businesses under the umbrella organization of Sociedad Matriz SAAM S.A. are the operation of ports, logistics and towing services. The latter unit is handled by SAAM Towage. In 2018, the towing unit alone had more than 1,400 employees. “SCHOTTEL has been part of SAAM’s growth story from the outset. First with thrusters in second-hand vessels, and later on as part of our renewal and new building plans,” is how Pablo Cáceres, Technical Director of SAAM Towage, explains the long business relationship with the German propulsion expert.
Today, the fleet operates in nine countries in the Americas facing a wide range of tasks for towing operations in the inland ports. SAAM Towage is an experienced provider of maritime services in oil terminals and in buoy mooring operations. Also their tugs are prepared to support rescue operations, acting as a great partner for salvage companies. The tugs are suitable for carrying out almost any request for support from coastal applications of any kind. Furthermore, SAAM Towage is proficient in the operation of LNG terminals. Among the most important are Petrobras in Salvador de Bahia in Brazil, Bahía de Quintero in Chile and Altagas in British Columbia, Canada.
SAAM Towage, founded in 1961, is based in Santiago de Chile. The multinational company under the parent company Sociedad Matriz SAAM S.A., which is focused on the operation of ports, logistics and towing, operates 151 tugboats, 83 per cent of them azimuth, in nine countries.
"The tugboat industry is very competitive. It is still highly fragmented and presents signifi - cant growth opportunities," says Pablo Cáceres. "SCHOTTEL is always present in our long-term growth, as well as in our day-to-day operation." One of the latest examples is the acquisition of two 83-ton bollard pull tugboats for operations in Canada in 2018. The SAAM Grizzly and SAAM Orca are equipped with powerful type SRP 460 CP rudderpropellers, giving the escort capabilities that the carriers need in important ports, such as Vancouver in Canada.
"However, the introduction of new assets to our fleet is not the sole relevant cooperation milestone with SCHOTTEL," SAAM Towage’s Technical Director explains. "We also partner with them when it comes to important trends. One trend is the move towards hybrid propulsion, something every operator must take into account when evidencing the necessary involvement with environment protection. In addition to that, we feel safe with them when it comes to the digitalization of data acquisition, as well as remote control operations."
With two subsidiaries in South America – in Colombia and in Brazil – and several sales and service locations, SCHOTTEL is a key player for tasks beyond delivering propulsion and steering systems, Pablo Cáceres adds. "SAAM Towage is always obtaining support and ideas for new projects on the maintenance side and lifetime improvement on the vessels in operation."
The company has been making strides in the past few years to continue its growth in the future. In 2018, for example, the parent company signed a US$ 194 million deal to acquire a full stake in the two joint operations it formed in 2014 in Brazil, Mexico, Panama and Canada with Royal Boskalis Westminster for their towage business. The operation was closed in October 2019, positioning SAAM Towage as one of the key players in the industry. Also in 2018, SAAM Towage won the first regional contract in six countries in the Americas and signed a long-term agreement with Energía del Pacífico to provide services in a new market, El Salvador. Most recently, the company expanded into Central America. The acquisition of 70 per cent of Intertug is in its final stage of closure. Intertug is a towage operator in Colombia, Mexico and Central America. Its 25-vessel fleet allows SAAM Towage to establish a presence in Colombia, one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America, and at the same time reinforce its position in Mexico and Central America.
There is no question that SAAM Towage has all the building blocks it needs to achieve its longterm goal: to consolidate its leadership in the Americas in providing the best services for the maritime industry.
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