The history of URAG

1890 …

… the company was founded under the name “Schleppschifffahrtsgesellschaft Unterweser” (SGUW) by Bremen merchants. At this time, a lively increase in shipping traffic and the associated tugboat traffic was expected due to the customs connection of the Hanseatic City of Bremen and the ongoing straightening of the Weser. In addition to pure tugboat traffic, barges were used. The straightening of the Weser had not yet been completed and so larger ships had to be lightened in barges. In 1897 tow barges with a higher capacity were ordered, which could also be used for traffic on the Oberweser. Three years later, lighter traffic was introduced for Baltic shipping. To round off the fleet, four tugboats and seaworthy lighters were purchased. The development of SGUW was interrupted by the First World War.

SGUW 1897

Despite the war …

… the company acquired the first freight steamer at the beginning of 1915 in order not to restrict the transport of light goods only. After the end of the 1st World War the “Metallgesellschaft” bought the first shares of the “SGUW”. Already in 1920 it owned the majority of shares, but promised that the “Bremen character” of the shipping company would remain unchanged and that “MG” would not take a privileged position. The “Metallgesellschaft” kept this promise for a long time. The shipping company was further expanded: In 1920 two cargo ships were bought. In 1922 the company was renamed “Unterweser Reederei Aktiengesellschaft”, with the abbreviation URAG, still known today, in order to document the expansion of the business beyond tugboat shipping. Over the next few years, URAG was able to maintain and expand its fleet despite the difficult period of high inflation. It was further restructured and modernised.

URAG 1922

With only two tractors …

… after the end of the 2nd World War in June 1945 the towing operation was resumed in Bremerhaven and only one year later one could already speak of a semi normal operation again. In 1949, sea barges were purchased again and URAG ventured to re-enter cargo shipping. From 1951 on, after the lifting of the shipbuilding restrictions, the fleet was quickly rebuilt. The structural change in tramp shipping towards bulk transport necessitated an adjustment of the fleet. However, the traditional tugboat business was by no means neglected: From 1954 the tugboat fleet was rapidly renewed and as early as 1958 towing services were started in Wilhelmshaven. At the same time, URAG became active in the field of overseas towage, which was expanded over the next years.

URAG Schlepper Schiffahrt 1958

With effect as of January, 1st 1960 …

… URAG was transformed into a limited liability company. This status still exists today. In 1966, URAG expanded its position in bulk shipping by founding “Unterweser Reederei Beteiligungs GmbH”. Another company, “Roland Linie Schiffahrtsgesellschaft mbH”, was founded in 1970 by URAG and “Lloyd”. In 1973, together with “Hapag Lloyd AG”, “Unterweser Frachtschiffahrts-GmbH & Co. KG” was founded; two years later Hapag Lloyd took over the URAG share. After the abandonment of cargo shipping, in addition to modernising the tugboat fleet, the company not only looked for new areas of activity for tugboats, but also intensified its initial efforts to expand its business interests.

URAG 1970

In the seventies …

… the declining shipping traffic forced rationalisation, which led to the development of the so-called “3-men tugs”. The concept of a tug was developed which was suitable for both port towing assistance and sea towing. In 1978 the first tugs of this type were delivered, which in the following period also carried out numerous drilling platform mooring and dock towing operations. Furthermore, the supplying for oil rigs was added, for which special offshore supply vessels were developed. In 1989, “Metallgesellschaft” transferred its 100% stake of URAG to Lehnkering Montan Transport AG (now VTG-Lehnkering AG). Five years later in 1994 URAG took the opportunity to acquire the L&R Lütgens&Reimers in Hamburg.

URAG 1999

URAG 2000

In 2001, Linnhoff Schiffahrt GmbH & Co. KG, Buxtehude, took over URAG together with L&R Schleppschiffahrt GmbH&Co. KG, RF Forschungsschiffahrt GmbH and WIKING Helikopter Service GmbH to develop an effective mesh of services for near- and offshore markets.
2017 the URAG and L&R became proud members of the spanish Boluda group.



Unterweser Reederei GmbH
Am Weser-Terminal 10
28217 Bremen
Tel.: +49 421 34 88 0
Fax: +49 421 34 88 100

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Tel.: +49 421 34 88 219
Fax: +49 421 34 88 100

Our tug chronicle
Our tugs – now and then:

Tug chronicle