Used tugboats are in tight supply, says Marcon

Written by Nick Blenkey
cover of Marcon report

If you’re looking to be buy a used tugboat right now, you will likely have to look a lot harder than you would have last year. Coupeville, Wash., based shipbroker Marcon International has released its latest May 2022 Tug Boat Market Report with data from the firm’s extensive databases on tugs for sale in the U.S. and worldwide. As of May this year, Marcon reported 409 tugs officially on the market for sale out of 5,198 tracked. This is down 13.89% from one year ago and 31.03% from five years ago. Marcon has closed ten sales to date in 2022 and says it has several additional sales pending.

“Activity has nearly doubled compared to 2021 (our worst year ever) and it seems we have finally broken out of the COVID-19 overhang,” says Marcon. “Operating tugs and barges are in short supply both in the U.S. and international market. Across the age spectrum, the lack of inventory on the second-hand market is our biggest challenge as brokers. The rise in diesel prices has refocused buyers on fuel efficiency, creating greater demand for lower BHP ‘right-sized’ tugs.”

“Gone are the days of buying or chartering a 6,000 BHP tug to do a job that a 4,000 BHP tug can do,” says Marcon. “Inflation in general has driven up prices to maintain and reactivate tugs and barges, driving the prices of units with current certificates higher. We have also seen several examples of engine and other part shortages, pushing some buyers away from taking on laid-up vessels. Higher oil prices have driven marginal demand for offshore towing and barges, hitting an already tight market. Anticipation of wind projects has several owners holding onto various currently under-utilized tugs and barges.”

  • There’s much more in the full report. It’s available HERE
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