Monday, 24 December 2012


The title is not a reference to a famous or less known brand of liqueur made in Holland but is a season
greeting of the master of one of the last ocean going tugs flying the Dutch flag. It regards the tug "Singapore".
I invite you to read this season greeting for it tells in a few well chosen  words the demise of a once great and
world famous salvage and towing company, Smit Internationale Sleep- en Bergingsdienst N.V. in Maasluis.

"This is the last season greetings send from this vessel. Soon the "Singapore" will be history and wholesaled together with "London" and "Rotterdam".  Presently the "Singapore" is performing her last towage under Dutch flag. An empty barge from Malaysia across the Pacific to Morgan City (USA).
I was already retired, but due to personnel circumstances I was requested by Svitzer Ocean Towage to make this last voyage. I joined "Singapore" in Honolulu end of Novermber, during a bunker stop. It is trip down memory lane. In 1984 I was Chief Officer on the "Smit Singapore" on her maiden voyage. After that I made many voyages as Captain on the "Smitwijs Singapore". This is my last voyage as Captain and it gives me great pleasure that I can do this on this tug, with a few old good time colleagues. On the other hand it is a sad feeling now the end is near for this branch of Dutch ocean towage, dating back to the Nineteenth century. It didn't have to end this way.
The decline and demise, which took several decades to materialize, was caused by wrong strategies, wrong investments and haughty judgement by Smit International management in the past. The final axe came from the cold and ruthless bean counters in Denmark.
Fortunately other Dutch towing companies are keeping this traditional and reputable Dutch trade alive.
Personally I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a good 2013. Let one of your toasts during New Year's Eve be on the "old ladies" and their crews that sailed on them. I wish you all well!!
Capt. Kees Pronk - Master Singapore  "

This says it all, I think. Smit, once a force in the towage and salvage world is now part of a dredging company and slowly the tugs are being sold to foreign interests. Wijsmuller, another well known towing and salvage company has disappeared from the seas, because the management did not have the courage to affront the competition with the lame excuse that it was a matter of taking over or being taken over. The last happened of course and now they are part of the "happy" A.P. Moller family.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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