The booming Thai economy and the shallow waters of the Chao Phrya River combine to create a growing demand for lightering operations of bulk cargos in the Gulf of Thailand.. This demand is being met by the S. P. Inter Marine
Co. Ltd of Bangpli, Samutprakarn near Bangkok. Originally a trucking and land based company, the firm moved into the marine logistics field
in 1995 and now operates a fleet of 80 barges, 20 ocean going tugs, numerous little river tugs
, and 8 huge floating off-loading stations.
In January 2005 the company added their newest tug to the fleet. Tasked to relatively short tows from the off-load stations to the river mouth the company’s tugs are single screw. At 26 by 7 meters the latest vessel is the largest in the fleet. It is also the most powerful with an 850 HP Cummins KTA38 M0 turning a four-blade 82-inch propeller through a 7:1 Twin Disc MG520-1 gear.
S. P. Inter Marine operate their own shipyard at Ayuthya about fifty miles up the Chao Phrya River from the Gulf. Here they build their off-off loading stations as well as tugs and barges. Adjacent to the shipyard is a transfer station for moving bulk cargos such as soy beans and coal from barge to truck or vice versa.
S.P. Inter Marine Assistant Manager Krithep Suwajanakorn explains that the company’s emerging philosophy for construction of both new tugs and transfer stations, “If you buy second hand you get less support. We look for the long term partnership with suppliers just as we do with our customers. In countries like Viet Nam it can take up to 20 days to unload a panamax bulker. We can do this in one or two days. With panamax charter rates in the $30,000 per day range this represents huge savings to the shipper and a significant competitive edge. “
To meet these demands the firm is using new McGreggor cranes on the transfer stations and new Cummins engines in their tugs like the recently launched Wattana#6.