Seaspan swallows SMIT / Rivtow

Big news on Canada’s west coast today, my sources have just sent me an email saying that Seaspan has just swallowed SMIT Canada, ex Rivtow. I have from good sources that Boskalis has sold all assets to Seaspan.

You can read here, a bit about Rivtow’s prolific presence on the West Coast. Rivtow was at one time a massive industrial entity, the biggest in BC, with the largest fleet on the coast. Rivtow was bought by Dutch tug and salvage giant SMIT, in late 1990’s and becoming SMIT Marine Canada, in what was considered a “distress sale”. SMIT employed what appeared to be a “hands off” approach in managing the Canadian operations for many years.

SMIT started taking more of an interest in their Canadian operations several years ago, by focusing on its core worldwide business, harbour towage, and importing two newer and more powerful tugs into Vancouver and Prince Rupert. A couple years ago, they purchased their competitor in Prince Rupert. Meanwhile the core business of Rivtow, log towing and chip barging suffered a steady decline in the last ten years, in particular with the collapse of the housing market in the United States.

SMIT itself, became a target of acquisition by another Dutch maritime giant, Royal Boskalis, in september 2009, the deal was rejected, but Boskalis pressed on, and SMIT was sold to Royal Boskalis in January 2010. Seaspan meanwhile, was more diversified and financial well connected to weather the storm, evidently.

This is somewhat breaking news, so there is no further information available just yet, but I will post as soon as I can find out more. My reports are that the entire staff of SMIT has been laid off with about one hours notice.

Update 1 – Oct 15, 2010, 16:00EST

Spokesperson Kelly Francis, speaking for Seaspan, has stated that Seaspan has indeed purchased 40 vessels from the “log barging, chip barging and aggregate barging” business of SMIT – what is known as the outside fleet. The effective date of the transaction was October 12th, 2010. The harbour tugs – inside fleet – will remain with SMIT (Boskalis), and they will presumably continue to operate in the berthing assist business on the West Coast. Further details of the deal and its impact on employees, ashore and afloat, were not provided.

“This was strictly an assets sale and its business as usual here at Seaspan.”

In expanding, “Seaspan continues to strive to meet the needs of our customers and BC’s marine industry – This purchase strengthens are ability to provide increased efficiencies to our customers and ourselves – These include cost savings and improved operational synergies (for example: the ability to carry more cargo per tow – double and triple tows vs. single tows)” spokes person Kelly Francis states.

Update 2 – Oct 18, 2010

Claudia van Andel , spokesperson with SMIT, responded to my emails by saying “This is in line with the strategic plan for the rationalization of SMIT activities in BC and enables SMIT Marine Canada to focus on its core business in Canada, being harbour towage operations. Currently SMIT Marine Canada provides harbour towage services in northern BC (Prince Rupert and Kitimat) and southern BC (Vancouver and New Westminster). “

This article has 6 Comments

  1. Its hard to see a company that a lot of dedicated people worked so had at ( myself included )to build to be tossed out like junk shame on John and Smit what a waste

  2. OMG that's it for businesses and mills up and down the coast Seaspan is the man with the big stick they will dictate rates, and they will pay and its there own fault as mills pushed rates down or refused to allow increases all i can say is I TOLD YOU SO. Good for Seaspan that's the way to do businesses

  3. No big surprise here.
    As an ex employee I have long felt this was going to happen, Boskalis or no Boskalis.
    What was a big surprise was the shabby treatment of employees who became redundant.
    Smit International has a long history and stellar reputation where employee relations is concerned. So the refusal of Smit Marine Canada to pay 2 weeks pay in lieu of notice was pretty shabby. They ducked contractual and legal obligations,thanks to weak union representation.(surprise ???)
    If they treat their customers that way they may have to sell the rest of their business also.
    I believe I know the reason behind this shabby treatment.
    ( say: Vlassopoulos Unscrupulous)

  4. Even more turmoil,employee realignment and layoffs as the work load drops off after the sale.

    more: Vlassopoulos Unscrupulous

    I think the lucky ones now work across the Harbour.

  5. Steven Harper and the Conservative Government have allowed Dennis Washington to form a west coast marine transportation monopoly. Thousands have lost their jobs as a result. And just like Harper, Washington has no regard or respect for those that work for a living.

  6. Sad to see what became of Rivtow.

    My Dad worked for Island Tug and Barge before the three companies merged to form Seaspan. My Dad lived down the road in Gibson’s BC from retired Capt. William Higgs and his nephew John Higgs. I worked at Rivtow in a work study affair from the Feds in their building on Commissionair St in the late 80’s

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