Foss Maritime, Seattle, and Netherlands-based Damen Shipyards Group announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding to produce and market a new version of the Damen ASD 2813 tug, modified to meet the unique demands of the U.S. tug assist and escort market.

The first four of a series of at least 10 azimuth stern drive (ASD) tugs will be constructed at the Foss Rainier, Ore., Shipyard, with delivery planned for 2019.

“Foss and Damen have a vision of the next generation of ship assist and escort tugs, and by combining Damen’s long history of design and construction experience with Foss’ operational and shipbuilding expertise, this vision will be realized,” Foss officials said in a prepared statement announcing the venture. “While Foss will construct the tugs to supplement and enhance their fleet, tugs of this build series will be available for purchase by other U.S. tug operators.”

The arrangement is similar to the deal struck in October 2016 between Damen and Edison Chouest Offshore (ECO) to build 13 ASD heavy-duty, mooring assistance and escort tugs based on Damen’s ASD 3212 design. Those tugs are to be built at ECO’s five shipyards with Damen support.

Damen opened a new North American office in Houston in August 2016 and within three months had contracts for 27 tugboats to be built here. Like those other partners, Foss is taking the opportunity to update its own fleet and help Damen sell its designs to other U.S. operators.

“This partnership supports our shared goals,” said John Parrott, Foss president and CEO. “It means we can strengthen our fleet while meeting the demands of our customers, and at the same time Damen has the opportunity to market their innovative tug designs in the U.S."

“Working with Foss will enable us to strengthen our relationship while serving the North American market with state-of-the-art, cost-effective and dependable vessels,” said Jan van Hogerwou, Damen’s vice president of new construction for  North America. “We’re excited about this collaboration and look forward to working closely with Foss.”