SEACOR Holdings Sells Bahamas Tug JV to KOTUG as Divestments Continue

Bahamas tugs
KOTUG acquired full ownership of the Bahamas tug operation as SEACOR continues to divest businesses (KSM)

Published Feb 29, 2024 12:54 PM by The Maritime Executive


KOTUG International, the Netherlands-based towage and maritime services company, has taken full ownership of its joint venture with SEACOR Holdings which operates tug and marine services from Freeport in the Bahamas. It is the latest in a series of steps by SEACOR, a portfolio company of American Industrial Partners, as the company realigns its long-term investments in the maritime sector.

The terms of the latest transaction were not announced, but KOTUG takes 100 percent ownership of Kotug Seabulk Maritime. They are acquiring the 50 percent interest previously held by SEACOR. The company’s fleet includes two Rotortugs, two stern drive tugs, two line handlers, a crew launch, and a bunker barge.

“Together with Seabulk, we have developed KSM into a renowned, leading towage brand in the Caribbean,” said Ard-Jan Kooren, CEO of KOTUG. “We are excited to take full ownership of the business and to continue offering essential support to Buckeye Partners Freeport operations for many years to come.”

Founded in 2017, Kotug Seabulk Maritime acts as the exclusive provider of maritime terminal support services for energy infrastructure company Buckeye Partners’ Bahamas Hub, which is located on the western side of Grand Bahama Island near Freeport. The terminal has a 26 million bbls capacity and Buckey holds the sole operating license for all bunkering operations in Freeport harbor.

“This is an extremely positive outcome,” said Dan Thorogood, CEO of Seabulk, discussing the transaction the latest in a series of moves by his company. “Over the course of our decade-plus relationship, we not only integrated the proprietary Rotortug vessel into the KSM, but also into the formerly owned Seabulk US-flag harbor towing fleet. KOTUG is a leader in towing innovation, and I can confidently say they are uniquely suited to carry the business forward.”

This marks the fifth transaction for SEACOR in its maritime investments in the past six months. The key move was the announcement in September 2023 that Crowley and SEACOR through its subsidiary Seabulk Tankers, are launching a joint venture integrating their liquid energy and chemical transportation vessels, operations, and related services into a new, independent U.S. Jones Act service provider, Fairwater Holdings. Thorogood will assume the CEO role of Fairwater, which will include 20 ocean-going, articulated tug-barges and 11 tankers, many under long-term charter. The joint venture will provide crewing and technical management for an additional 21 third-party owned vessels.

The divestments have included a deal splitting SEACOR’s U.S. harbor towing operations and assets from its Seabulk Towing Holdings between E.N. Bisso & Son and Bay-Houston Towing Co. SEACOR has also sold Inland River Transport Holdings to Ingram Barge Company, a division of Nashville-based Ingram Marine Group. 

SECOR at the beginning of February also reported the sale of another Bahamas-focused operation, its liner and logistics business SEACOR Container Lines to King Ocean Services. This company provides services to nearly 30 destinations across the Bahamas and Turks & Caicos transporting a range of containerized and refrigerated cargoes, break bulk, and heavy equipment via weekly liner and charter service.

Most of the holdings were longer-term investments which SEACOR developed and expanded in its partnerships. SEACOR was set up 35 years ago as an investment company focusing on transportation and logistics, as well as other sectors including emergency management and clean fuel and power solutions. The company was taken private by private equity firm American Industrial Partners in April 2021.