• PNG Business News

Marine Salvage & Emergency Response Partner



Pacific Towing (PacTow) has nearly 40 years’ salvage experience in not only its home country of Papua New Guinea but in the waterways of many countries in Oceania and South East Asia. Whether working in partnership with international operators, or individually, PacTow has considerable open ocean, coastal and also river and estuary salvage expertise and capacity. The company is a full member of the International Salvage Union and the International Spill Control Organisation.


PacTow built its salvage capacity in the 1980’s through early joint venture partners, Howard Smith Towage and United Salvage. Initially, United Salvage undertook the major salvages in PNG using PacTow crew and equipment supplemented with plant, tugs, salvage master, salvage engineers and other technical personnel from Australia where required.


General Manager, Neil Papenfus, says that the company’s salvage capacity and expertise has grown considerably with each operation since the 1980s. “In terms of vessels, we now have a fleet of 15 tugs, four of which are central to the majority of our salvage work. We also have a low draft vessel which is ideal for shallow water salvage operations in rivers and estuaries, such as one we’re working on right now on the Fly River. Our fleet of tugs is complemented by numerous additional support vessels, including dedicated dive vessels and a barge fitted with a 150 tonne capacity crane.”


When it comes to personnel, Papenfus is appreciative of the 200+ PacTow team, 97 per cent of whom are Melanesian. “We enjoy a position of market leadership in Melanesia because of our staff, many of whom have been with our company in excess of 10 years. No one knows the waterways and weather patterns here better than the locals and because of their longevity with our company, their salvage experience is the best in our region.” Critical to PacTow’s salvage capacity is its internationally trained and accredited commercial dive team, with members having worked on salvage operations as far afield as New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and Solomon Islands.


The company’s salvage capacity is complemented by its spill response capabilities. PacTow is a member of the International Spill Control Organisation and partners with ‘sister’ company and global operator, Swire Emergency Response (SER) on spill control and prevention in PNG. SER stores its oil spill response equipment (e.g., booms, skimmers, pollutant recovery and storage pods) at PacTow’s dedicated tug base in Port Moresby for ease and speed of deployment. Both SER and parent company Swire Pacific Offshore (SPO) also provide PacTow staff with valuable training.


Although not immune to the impacts of COVID-19, PacTow is still managing to crew and despatch its vessels and has additional capacity to support other marine service providers and salvage operators in the region. It has proactively and strategically deployed assets to four major PNG ports in a ‘standby’ capacity so as to better provide rapid emergency response, salvage and spill services when required.


To learn more about PacTow’s salvage capabilities, as well as its breadth of other marine services: www.pacifictowingmarineservices.com.

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