Company History

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Group History

Ultragas Aps is a wholly owned subsidiary of Sociedade Ultranav Limitada, which is the shipowning/operating unit of the family owned Ultramar Group of Santiago, Chile.

Ultramar was founded in 1952 by Captain Albert von Appen as a ship agency company, initially focusing on providing agency and logistical support services to foreign shipping companies. Captain von Appen was subsequently joined by his two sons, Sven von Appen and Wolf von Appen, who successfully developed and diversified the group into other shipping related activities and expanded the activities into a.o. Argentina, Peru, Uruguay, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, and Panama – and in more recent times into Europe and the U.S. The group is major operator of port terminals and has undertakings in industrial activities including mining, power generation, gas storage and distribution, sulphoric acid production. Please visit www.ultranav.cl.

In deep sea shipping activities Ultranav today operates about 220 vessels, approximately 60 of which are owned vesssels. To this can be added about 70 specialized vessels within harbour and deep sea towage, salvage activities, and off-shore drilling and production support in a number of locations throughout South America.

The deep sea fleet includes tankers for the transport of crude oil, refined products, and chemicals, dry cargo bulk carriers, multi-purpose dry cargo vessels, and specialized vessels for the transport of liquified gases. The group is today jointly headed by Dag von Appen, and Richard von Appen. The group was amongst the first to engaged in the transport of gas in liquid form, having acquired a 90 cubic meter capacity gas carrier newbuilding in 1960. With an overall length of 23 meters only, it was probably the smallest vessel of its kind ever built. Placed into service in the southernmost Patagonia region of South America it vastly improved the logistics for local gas producers and consumers replacing the traditional transport of gas in steel bottles.

This ability to – jointly with clients – identify and develop new and efficient transport solutions has been key to the expansion of the group, and within the gas transportation area to Ultragas ApS, which today operates the group’s more than 20 specialized gas carriers in international trading and of various types and sizes ranging from 3500 cbm to 20.700 cbm cargo capacity.

Our History

On the 14th of January 1966, the 1st tug named Ultramar arrived in Chile, in Arica, the most modern tug at the time, fitted with steerable nozzle around the propeller, providing an improved maneuverability


Ultramar II arrived in Chile, a tug with similar features as Ultramar, however positioned in Valparaiso, Chile´s main port.


Newly built Ultramar III arrived in Chile, positioned in San Antonio


The only tugboat in Antofagasta was bought, operated by PSNC under the name of Coloso and was renamed Ultramar IV


Ultratug saw a new opportunity, buying 2 more tugs, built in Spain from an owner that went bankrupt and renamed them Ultramar V and Ultramar VI. They were positioned in Valparaiso and San Antonio, while Ultramar III was relocated in San Vicente.

A 2nd hand tug was bought in Germany, renamed Ultramar VII, which was positioned in Punta Arenas. One year later, came Ultramar VIII, which was located in the same port.
Ultramar IX was purchased, positioned in San Antonio, being fitted with fire-fighting equipment, necessary for the chemical terminals in that port.
Enap developed its offshore activity in the Magellan Straight area. Ultratug successfully won a tender to provide transportation for Enap´s personnel working on the oil rigs with a crew boat named Ñandú.
Ultramar X was constructed in Germany, a powerful multipurpose tug fitted with the new ASD propulsion system, the 1st tugboat of this type in Chile and South America, fitted with anchor handling and fire-fighting equipment, being able to assist in ports, oil & gas terminals and the offshore industry.
Ultratug joined forces with Smit Lloyd from Holland and successfully won a tender to provide offshore support services for Enap in the Magellan Strait with 5 AHTS (Anchor Handling Tug Supply) vessels

Hand in hand with the business growth in Chile, booming import and export activity, Ultratug gradually developed its fleet until reaching 14 units in 1990. Moreover, Kenrick was acquired, a traditional agency which also operated tugboats in Valparaiso and San Antonio, enabling us to consolidate our position in those 2 ports.

Ultratug purchased the first two tugs ever built in Chile, named Pangui & Pulli
Ultratug saw an opportunity abroad with the acquisition of an argentine company named Rio Luján, which operated 3 tugboats in Buenos Aires.
The 2 smallest tugs of Ultratug fleet were swapped with a large tug named Amadeo, belonging to Comapa. During same year and in 1995, 4 additional tugs were purchased, also built in Chile, sisterships to Pangui & Pulli, but more powerful.

The former Ultramar VI was moved in Perú and renamed Manu, starting our tugboat activity in that country through Petrolera Transoceanica.

At the end of the 3rd decade, the total fleet comprised of 26 units: 22 tugs, 3 OSVs (Offshore Support Vessel), 1 crew boat

An active fleet renewal plan started, 10 new built tugs were ordered in Chile and 2 specialized tugs were bought in Spain.

Due to Enap’s activity in the Chilean Offshore was falling sharply, as oil reserves were depleted, Enap moved to Argentina, through its subsidiary Sipetrol and we followed them, starting our Offshore activity there through our shipping company Antares.

Taking advantage of the close relationship between Antares and Petrobras, we managed to fix a Timecharter contract with the Brazilian oil company, being this the first step into that market

Looking for synergies, we merged Rio Luján and Antares.


Company Nate was acquired, specialized in providing integral oil terminal support services in Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina.

2003- 2005
Antares’ tug fleet grew rapidly with 3 tugs, and expanding its business to Bahia Blanca. In 2005, Antares acquired Antillana, increasing its fleet and its share in the Buenos Aires tugboat market


The Joint Venture between Wilson Sons and Ultratug was created, enabling us to grow very rapidly in the Brazilian Offshore market.


We entered in the Ecuadorian harbor towage business, through Japina.


We entered the harbor towage business in Uruguay, through Urutug.


We entered the harbor towage business in Colombia, through Coltugs. Additionally, we commenced our barge transportation business in Uruguay, through Transfluvial.


Ultratug won a tender for harbor towage operation in Lázaro Cárdenas, Mexico, beginning operations in January 2017 under the name of Mextug.

In the meantime, the other businesses continued to grow, ending our fifth decade of expansion with a fleet of 99 units: 64 tugs, 23 OSVs, 12 others.


At present, Ultratug comprises of a modern and versatile fleet of tugs, OSVs, PSV, pilot boats, and Pusher tugs and Barges active in 8 countries.