The fleet

© Marine Nationale

After the Amoco Cadiz disaster in1978 and planned until 2050, the French political choices dedicated to protect the coastline made the government set up unique measures : charter 365 days per year specialised vessels, ready to get underway in less than 40 minutes, 24 hours a day. 

Only a few countries in the world have made this choice following a maritime and ecological disaster. This long term decision has given Les Abeilles the opportunity to specialise and even become a world reference in ocean towing and salvage.  

Today, the company Les Abeilles International possesses 5 ships on permanent call, spread around the French coast.

4 Emergency Towing Vessel (ETV)


ABEILLE FLANDRE in Toulon (83)

ABEILLE LANGUEDOC in Boulogne sur mer (62)

2 other sister-ships.

ABEILLE LIBERTE  in Cherbourg (50)

ABEILLE BOURBON  in Brest (29)

Abeille Bourbon remorquant le Marco Polo
© Marine Naționale - Abeille Bourbon - Exercice de remorquage

A powerful towing ability dedicated to the coastline protection

The ocean towing vessels can be compared to tractors, robust, low built, designed around their main towing winch and their large propellers. They must answer to a few straightforward requirements: high towing ability (bollard pull), manoeuvrability, reliability and sea worthiness

For 4 generations of Abeilles vessels, the propulsion has been by 2 variable pitch propellers fitted in a nozzle, each driven by 2 engines.

More details on Les Abeilles’ sisterships

At this time, the huge size of ships – 400m long container ships or cruise ships with a wind area the size of 4 football pitches carrying 6000 people – poses a large number of questions regarding the handling of accidents and damage on these ships. 

Spearheaded by our historical partner, towing drills have been carried out with gigantic container ships.

Our tugs are capable of towing these giant vessels up to 7 knots and our knowledge gives us the opportunity to design tugs adapted to company or government needs.

Bollard Pull

Tug boats can be differentiated by their bollard pull. It’s the main feature of all towing vessels in the world. This value is measured by a tension meter secured between the tug and a shore based mooring bitt. The highest ever BP measured is 477 tonnes for a 123 meter long ship, the ISLAND VICTORY.

1 Oil Recovery Vessel (Oilrec)

Our Oil Recovery Vessel, the JASON is an offshore supply vessel built in 2005 and refitted by us in 2009 to become a highly efficient multi-purpose ship. Not as towing performant as the Emergency Towing Vessel in bad weather, its wide aft deft and dynamic positioning ability (DP2) makes it ideal for working at sea, putting into place ROV operations, diving support and especially pollution fighting with a 1000m3 hydrocarbon waste recovery system.   

This ship plays an essential part in the fight against pollution in the Mediterranean. It is used as a logistical platform for the Marine National antipollution department’s (CEPPOL) equipment. 

Its flexibility makes it essential during wreck re-floating operations for which it is used as logistical platform. The JASON is also used for the NSRS (NATO Submarine Rescue System) 

Jason @Les Abeilles
© Les Abeilles - Jason - NSRS

You can find the full features and download the ship’s particulars of each vessel on its respective home page.

Emergency 24/24