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ITS Convention Marseille 2018

Traveling from far and wide, we all met again earlier this year at the not-to-be-missed, biennial International Tug and Salvage Convention and Exhibition. This year’s event was held in Marseille, France. Take a peek for yourselves at and look for ITS 2018 Marseille in the menu.

This was the 50th year that ITS has taken place. It is organized by The ABR Company Ltd which also organizes the Tugnology technical conferences in intervening years. While Tugnology is held over two days in Europe and involves in-depth technical papers about tugs and nothing but tugs, ITS encompasses a far wider field of papers. It runs over four days and regularly exceeds previous years’ delegate attendance numbers.
The first conference I attended was in Amsterdam for the Tugnology event which ran over two full days. As a Tugmaster, I was fascinated by the information I was hearing from the presentations. I was also struck by the willingness of the speakers and all the trade stand holders to get feedback from a Tugmaster who is ‘sat in the chair’ daily dealing with all the equipment given to them onboard. It really blew me away and as I have said many times, “Why didn’t I know about this years ago?” This family environment of likeminded people within our industry and my own thirst for knowledge has seen me at 9 of these conferences over 10 years. I still can’t believe I missed one, due to work getting in the way again…

Despite our industry being global, attendance at the conference will allow you the chance to meet all the names you have heard of and companies whose products you use and you will be delighted with the informal chats and discussions that continue to dominate each event. There is no hard sell at any time here, it is all about teaming up to make our industry sustainable, safer, more cost-effective and in many cases leading the shipping world in changing of design and environmental impact. All of which must be contained within 20 – 40 meters of tug length.

Our 1st day in Marseille involved registration and meeting the wonderful team at ABR

who host the event and saying hello to old friends again. In the early evening, we all headed down to the Old Port for a Damen welcome reception. Damen have never failed to impress with their hosted events and if you have ever purchased a Damen tug then this is your chance to eat and drink some of the money back that you gave them for your tug. Over 300 people attended the welcome event and it was a lot of fun along with a tour of the Damen RSD tug 2513 twin finned skeg (and it’s green).

On day one of the conference we were up early (not as early as the IMS Run Crew for the more fitness-minded delegates and partners) as we had a double stand for SeaWays Global to finish preparing and to await the footsteps of all the delegates arriving, all longing for a much-needed coffee intake following the previous evening’s social event. There is always a great buzz of anticipation and excitement around seeing old and new companies coming together to show off their new products. Welcome speeches start at 0900 announcing conference open, followed by the magnificent papers that always impress the waiting delegates. This year’s topics included “The evolution of tug design, through ITS eyes” presented by Robert Allan, who needs no introduction, on the design changes throughout the 50 years of ITS event. A great presentation and instantly thought-provoking to begin to consider what the next 50 years will bring.

Day 2 was incredibly busy, the day was mainly spent looking around the stands and for the new faces to introduce yourselves to. I like to head straight for the stands and ask “What’s new this year?” This takes 3 days to achieve as our industry does not stop developing ideas; some really good and some really bad. However, it’s important to focus on all ideas and let’s say 1 out of 5 are brilliant. Any bad ones are learning opportunities and should always be held as a positive.

Day 2 also allowed the opportunity for our Partner Capt. Arie Nygh to present his paper on “Ship’s Deck Fittings, Utilised for Towage”.

A synopsis of the paper:
“There has been a move around the world to use high-powered escort tugs to ensure the safe passage of ships in restricted waterways. What has become apparent is that while these tugs can render significant assistance, there is an Achilles Heel – the ship’s fittings to which the towline is attached in many cases are unable to handle the forces generated by the tug. The investigation has found classification society regulations are confusing and lead to significant misunderstanding by pilots, tug masters and indeed ship owners. This potentially renders the whole exercise of escort towage a waste of time. This paper presents the issues, the underlying history of the situation, and comes up with some pragmatic guidelines to assist all concerned in making informed decisions”.
CAPT ARIE NYGH, Managing Director, SeaWays Consultants Pty Ltd, Australia

The evening brought a great social event sponsored by Cashman Equipment and was held on the rooftop of part of Marseille’s extensively redeveloped harbour area. It was a wonderful event with great hosts, brilliant food and refreshments for all. Another great location to talk all things tugs… 
Day 3 rounded off the conference, with further presentations providing a wealth of knowledge to be gained. Even though it was the last day, there were still many new faces arriving, delayed due to work commitments, and still an exciting buzz around the conference centre for all involved. As the show starts to run down it is amazing how crazy the afternoon gets with those last-minute meetings, deals still being made, introductions for the new attendees, fond farewells for early leavers and then the crazy rush to tear all the stands down, get packed away completely and get back to your accommodation ready for the gala dinner.

The gala event has all the Towage attendees trying their best to look as smart and cool as they can for an evening of great entertainment, a fantastic dinner and a well-deserved wine or beer for those that need it. Wives, husbands, and partners are invited to this event, so it really is a very social dinner and a chance for everyone to build on their relationships they have made during the conference.
In rounding off, I would like to say if you do get the chance to attend Tugnology 19 or ITS 2020 then you will not regret it. Many Tugmasters I know pay for their own entrance, accommodation, and travel to be there and even with this personal expense, they say they feel they could not miss one for their own professional development. Tugnology ’19 will be held in Liverpool, UK and again they are expecting to exceed delegate numbers from the previous event. Maybe they all hope to see a “Beatle”. Our thanks go to the whole team at the ABR Company for again allowing our industry to have an event that we all regard as a must go to event. Looking forward to seeing you all at Tugnology ’19 in Liverpool.

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