The towage company that Ben Iskes (father of the present owner) acquired in 1968 started out already in 1928 by towing inland barges loaded with coal from the coal mines in Limburg, a Southern province of Holland, to IJmuiden. Inland tugs towed the coal barges via the river Rhine but were not suitable to withstand the conditions outside of the IJmuiden locks and therefore more sturdy tugs had to take over the barge-handling in the IJmuiden port area.

The owner and founder of the towage company was Jacob Visser. He acquired his first tug in 1928: ‘Alberdina’ with 40 bhp. In 1930 he acquired a second tug called ‘Neeltje’ (100 bhp).

Fishing industry

The business came to a standstill during World War II, but after the war the towage of coal lighters re-started again. During that period, the fishing industry in IJmuiden also began to develop considerably. Resulting in quite a lot of vessel shifting operations. As a result of this increase a new tug was acquired in 1949, the ‘Triton’ with 150 bhp. Followed in 1956 by the ‘Thetis’, also with 150 bhp. In the early sixties, the IJmuiden based fishing fleet underwent an tremendous expansion. The port became home to more than 60 fishing vessels, so a 3rd new tug was ordered, the ‘Argus’ with 290 bhp.

Sleepdienst B. Iskes & Zn

Ben Iskes (born in 1944) acquired the company in 1968. Like his father he started his maritime career as a deckhand on board one of the famous Wijsmuller tugs. Later on he made a switch to Smit, the Rotterdam-based competitor.

Back home in 1967 Ben worked on and off on the IJmuiden harbour tugs of Jaap Visser’s towage company, but Ben wanted to start his own business. When Jaap Visser heard of these plans, he approached Ben to talk about a possible acquisition. No sooner said than done. Ben accepted the offer, took over the towing business in 1968 and renamed the company Sleepdienst B. Iskes & Zn.

From that year on the business was really getting off the ground and the fleet has grown gradually until what it is today.

Ben’s son Jim started working in the company at first as a tug master to gain valuable industry knowledge and experience, but now he has taken over the daily management from his father and he is actively expanding into other business area’s.

Today, the company continues to grow with highly experienced executive staff drawn from the marine and allied industries.