Whilst many of the small to medium-sized vessels using the middle Thames berths are able to manoeuvre into position using their own propulsion the larger cargo, cruise liner and military vessels often need some assistance to help them swing into position or to assist them in confined area operations such as in the West India or Royal Docks complexes.
This is where the Svitzer towage company comes in, based in Denmark but with operations all over the globe with a fleet of over 400 tugs, they have a permanent fleet on the Thames.
Svitzer provide 24 hour port operations support to the Port of London Authority and various ship operators using a fleet of at least 6 tugs based at Gravesend and these can be seen supporting ship operations as far upriver as the Upper Pool at Tower Bridge.
The fleet of assigned vessels does change from time to time as some tugs are swapped out to other operating locations or older vessels are retired from the fleet.
Svitzer have recently introduced two new vessels to the London contingent – namely Svitzer Eston & Svitzer London.
Svitzer Eston made her visit visit up river on 12th January 2015:
Since the article was originally published there have been a few changes to the locally based fleet of Svitzer tugs and these, along with some other visitors, have been noted.
For more pictures of Svitzer tugs on the Thames see here.