Boluda Advances Consolidation Buying UK’s Largest Independent Tug Company

SMS adds 20 tugs and new service areas to Boluda's global network (SMS)

Published May 24, 2024 6:39 PM by The Maritime Executive


Continuing its efforts to consolidate the towing business and broaden its global network, Spain’s Boluda Towage has signed an agreement to acquire the British company SMS Towage Ltd. The 32-year-old company reports it is the UK’s largest independent towage company, providing comprehensive harbor towage, offshore towage renewable energy support, and other specialist shipping project work.

Boluda already reported that it was the leader in towage. Last year it also announced the acquisition of Smit Lamnalco from joint venture partners Boskalis Group and Rezayat Group. Smit Lamnalco would add 111 vessels to the company, which reported it would have a fleet of 600 tugboats and an intervention capacity in 50 countries and 148 ports around the world. The deal however has not closed as of mid-2024, reportedly delayed by resolving issues in Russia and elsewhere,

The addition of SMS will strengthen the position of Boluda Towage, already operating in the ports of Invergordon (Cromarty Firth), London, Liverpool, and Southampton. SMS, which has been in towing since 2002, today operates 20 tugs in the UK ports/regions of, Tyne, Tees, Humber, Portsmouth, South Wales, and Belfast. The company added its newest tug in November 2023 with the Tradesman, a 52-bollard-ton pull vessel built in Turkey in 2023.

“The decision for us to accept the opportunity to sell SMS Towage to Boluda Towage came at just the right time, as we embark on a new chapter of business growth and development,” said SMS Towage owner and Founder Paul Escreet.

After the official closing of the transaction, SMS will be part of Boluda Towage’s organization in the United Kingdom, and will be branded Boluda Towage SMS. The local management team of Boluda Towage SMS will report to Philip Dulson, General Manager of Boluda Towage in the UK. 

It is the third acquisition by Boluda in less than two years. In addition to Smit Lamnalco, they also acquired Resolve Salvage and Fire (Gibraltar) in February this year. Previously they also acquired Caledonian Towage (Scotland) and Iskes Towage & Salvage in 2021, Kotug Smit Towage in 2019, and German towage companies Unterweder Reederei and Lutgens & Reimers in 2017.

Boluda started its port tug activities in Valencia, Spain in 1920. It reports that the acquisitions are continuing to strengthen its position and global network.