History

In 1890 ...

... our company was founded by merchants from Bremen under the name “Schleppschiffahrtsgesellschaft Unterweser” (SGUW). At that point in time, a sharp rise in shipping was expected and therefore an increase in towage, due to customs and excise being introduced to the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen and the straightening of the Weser river which was still in progress at that time. In addition to towage, barges were also utilised. The straightening of the Weser had not yet been finished making it necessary to exchange larger ships for barges. In 1897 several barges with a higher capacity were ordered, which could also be employed for shipping on the upper Weser. Three years later lighter vessels were introduced for the Baltic Sea trade. To complete the fleet, four tugboats and seaworthy lighters were acquired. However, the development of the SGUW was temporarily interrupted because of the First World War.

However, ...

... the development of the SGUW was temporarily interrupted because of the First World War. Despite the war, the company bought its first cargo steamer in 1915 with the purpose of not limiting the transport of goods to lighter traffic. After the end of the First World War the “Metallgesellschaft” (MG) bought their first shares from the SGUW. In 1920 they were already the majority stockholder and promised to maintain the typical character - much influenced by life in Bremen - of the shipping company and did not intend to adopt a preferred position. MG kept their promise for a considerably long time thereafter. The shipping company was further extended in 1920 with the purchase of two cargo ships. In order to document the expansion of the business beyond tug-shipping, the company was renamed in 1922 to “Unterweser Reederei Aktiengesellschaft” with its well-know abbreviation URAG. In the following years URAG managed not only to maintain their fleet, but also to expand it. In spite of the difficult economic climate it was restructured and modernised.

Starting out ...

... with only two tugs at the end of the Second World War, the company recommenced its towing operation in Bremerhaven in June 1945. One year later one could already speak of a half-decent operation.

In 1949 further seagoing lighters were purchased, with which URAG ventured the re-entry into cargo shipping. From 1951 onwards - after the lifting of shipbuilding restrictions - the fleet was promptly rebuilt. The structural change in tramp shipping to bulk cargo transport required an adjustment of the fleet. However, the traditional tug-shipping was by no means neglected. From 1954 the tug-fleet was quickly re-established and in 1958 towage services were introduced to Wilhelmshaven. At the same time URAG became active in the sector of overseas towage, which grew considerably over the next few years.

As from the 1st January ...

... 1960 URAG was turned into an Ltd. It still has this status today.

In 1966 URAG strengthened its position in bulk cargo transport through the foundation of the “Unterweser Reederei Beteiligungs-GmbH”. A second company - the “Roland Linie Schifffahrtsgesellschaft mbH” - was founded in 1970 as a co-operation of URAG and “Lloyd”. Then, in 1973 the “Unterweser Frachtschifffahrts-GmbH & Co. KG” was founded in co-operation with the “Hapag Lloyd AG”; two years later Hapag Lloyd took over the URAG-shares.

After abandoning cargo shipping the company was on the lookout for new ways to employ its tugs. Not only was the tug-fleet subject to thorough modernisation, being the core of our business, but our approach towards the expansion of our financial interests was also intensified.

In the seventies ...

... rationalisation became necessary, due to the downturn in shipping which resulted in the development of the so-called 3-man-tugs. A concept for a tug which could be used as a harbour tug and as a sea-tug was developed. In 1978 the first tugs of this kind were delivered. Within the next few years we performed several towage operations for rigs and docks. Furthermore, the supply of rigs was entered into. For this purpose special offshore-supply vessels were developed.

In 1989 “Metallgesellschaft” transferred 100% of all its URAG shares to the Lehnkering Montan Transport AG (later VTG-Lehnkering AG). In 1999 VTG Lehnkering – then part of the Preussag concern - joined forces with Hapag Lloyd AG after Preussag had taken over 100% of their share capital.

In 2001 LINNHOFF Schiffahrt GmbH & Co. KG Buxtehude took over URAG along with RF Forschungsschiffahrt GmbH and Wiking Helikopter Service GmbH.