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More than 350 years of combined history


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A young company with a collective history of 350 years of experience

Our company was founded in April 2016, through the merger of European harbour activities of Kotug (part of Kotug International) and Smit (daughter company of Boskalis).

Our collective heritage of 350 years of harbour towage is what we breathe and what we are well known for. Our roots are unmistakably European, just like our long history. Nowadays, we still operate at European scale in four countries and twelve ports.


In 1842, Fop Smit began providing vessels with a safe and reliable passage into the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The SMIT fleet has grown and developed with technical advancements and customer's demands. Fop's sons, Jan and Leendert, continued to expand the fleet and in 1870 they began building tugs with propellers.

In 1923, L. Smit & Co. and the Internationale Sleepdienst decided to merge operations under the name 'L. Smit & Co.'s Internationale Sleepdienst'. In March 2007, Smit Internationale NV announced the purchase of Adsteam’s Liverpool towage operation (Alexandra Towing). In May 2010, SMIT became a member of Royal Boskalis Westminster.



Captain Henri Gerling established his company "Remorquage à Hélice s.a."(i.e. Tugboats with Propellers Ltd or S.A.R.H for short) on the river Scheldt in 1870. URS came into being in 1928 as the name given to the alliance between S.A.R.H and "Letzer Towage Cy" which had been established in 1923. In 1974, they were all merged into the URS Group, to provide a strong unified organization going forward. Throughout its long history, URS has maintained its position as the leading operator on the Scheldt by taking over other companies in the Scheldt area, including "Willem Muller" and "Scheldt Towage Company". In 2008 Smit Internationale required 100% shares in URS.


The roots of KOTUG (four generations family Kooren) go back to the initial activities of Antonie Kooren, when he built his first tug in 1911. His son, Adriaan Kooren, registered its company ‘Towage Company Adriaan Kooren BV’ in 1934. In the beginning he operated as an independent towage broker and later as an tug owner, whereby the tugs were employed in the dredging and (port) construction industry in Rotterdam. In 1977, Adriaans’ son Ton Kooren started ‘Ton Kooren International Marine Services BV’, mainly providing worldwide and deep sea towage. In 1987 Ton Kooren established KOTUG International B.V. and started harbour towage activities in Rotterdam, Hamburg, Bremerhaven, London and Wilhelmshaven.




With 350 years of combined heritage, we are passionate about assisting ships safely.

Our large fleet of tugs provides tailored towage services in multiple European ports.

Through operational efficiency and flexibility, we focus on our customers’ needs and understand their expectations.



This themes are high priorities within our organization.

The key driver is to continually improve our standards in safe working with the goal of zero harm to the people or the environment.

It is our duty to execute operations conform contractual and regulatory requirements meeting customers and stakeholders’ demands.

Health & Safety

We have the objective to provide a safe workplace and prevent incidents by identifying, eliminating or mitigating risks and hazards for all our employees and customers. Also our crews make sure the tugboats are always in the best state, both mechanically and looking their best.

Quality standards integrated

We deliver sustainable towing service, which is leading in the market it was required to embed the quality standards into our management system, manuals and day to day practices. With having this embedded into our culture we can deliver a high level quality service. The applicable aspects of the ISO 9001:2015 standard have been incorporated into the business culture of the company.

Our Integrated Management system systematically describes controls and assures with the aim:

  • To work in accordance with the quality procedures and to meet the contract agreements
  • Safe working methods, in order to prevent accidents, anticipate and reduce risk
  • To meet law and regulations
  • To continuously improve our HSE-Q performance

Commitment to the environment

Transportation over sea, rivers and in the ports is continuously growing in Europe, as waterways are not cluttered (yet) and the scope of the hinterland expands all the time. With all new type of fuels and emission restrictions it is one of the cleanest ways of transportation out there right now. And a healthy environment is a safer environment.

As the leader of the pack we see it as our responsibility to actively come up with solutions for waste and energy efficient engine use.

Our most tangible commitment to the environment and emissions reduction, are our five hybrid tug boats. Thanks to their batteries and electric motors, these tugs are sailing very efficient and eco-friendly, delivering fuel-savings and optimizing working conditions for the crew.

We commit ourselves also to the highest standards in environmental protection, e.g. International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). The Convention includes regulations aimed at preventing and minimizing pollution from ships - both accidental pollution and that from routine operations.

When our tugs are berthed, they are connected to power from ashore, which helps to reduce harmful emission. So the entire supply for power comes from electricity, which is not generated by burning fossil fuels. Our tugs burn solely very clean Gas Oil (DIN EN 590), which is equivalent to what is suitable for diesel cars. We never use any sorts of duel fuels, therefore our sulphur emission is kept to a minimum and that applies for anytime all the time.

It is company’s policy, which is supported by corresponding sailing directions that tugs should proceed with eco speed (7 knots) to and from the job. Our crew receives special training to help them reducing the emission by thoughtful manoeuvring and commanding the tug.

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We care for our people. We mix crews, to share experiences. Vast experience and latest knowledge come together, calm seniority and eager young blood. Even when it comes to the youngsters on our tugs, as they are mentored and trained by our most experienced tug master.

Training programs for our crew take place both in our simulation centre and real live on the tugs.