The Teesport Business Spotlight aims to showcase and celebrate one of the many businesses and organisations based on and around the River Tees, each playing their part in helping our community thrive and develop.

Offshore and harbour towing operator SMS Towage is a relative newcomer to the Tees but the team are already starting to make their mark. We spoke to company director Simon Clarke to find out more about its plans for the future.

An independent, family-owned company, SMS Towage operates its fleet around the UK, with bases in the Humber, the Bristol Channel, Belfast and Portsmouth. A new Tees base, at Port Clarence on the river, was established four years ago.

With four tugs, SMS Towage provide services to vessels on the River Tees, guiding between berths and the estuary.

“What we do day-to-day is not particularly complicated, but it is a vital service to vessels who might need our assistance based on their size, the conditions on the river or the weather,” says Simon Clarke.

“Our skippers have a wealth of training and experience and our track record for safety speaks for itself.

“A vessel might not know until the last minute whether they need our support – our fast turnaround times are one of our calling cards, and we can be in place in as little as 30 minutes.”

A recent investment of £6m on a new tug for the Tees is a sign of SMS towage’s commitment to their newest UK operation.

“When we arrived in 2020, we went to the Tees and Hartlepool Port Users Association to introduce ourselves, explain what we do and what we offer, and made a commitment to offering a new choice and good service.

“We can say four years on that we’ve done what we pledged at that meeting. We’re enjoying being on the Tees, we’ve got a good crew of mainly local lads and we’re here to stay.”

With the company celebrating 20 years in business, its website is undergoing a refresh to better highlight its services.

For more information on SMS Towage and its services on the Tees visit