Transnet National Ports Authority announced a milestone in its $98 million tug building contract when the first of its nine new tugboats was launched at the Durban premises of contractor, Southern African Shipyards.
“This is the largest single contract TNPA has ever awarded to a South African company for the building of harbor craft,” said TNPA chief executive, Richard Vallihu. The tug was named ‘MVEZO’ in reference to the small village in the Eastern Cape of South Africa where former President, the late Nelson Mandela, was born. The boat’s sponsor was Lauriette Sesoko, TNPA GM Commercial & Marketing, who officially named the vessel.
“The building of MVEZO and the eight other tugs in this project, demonstrates that this country has the expertise to compete in the global shipbuilding industry and to use the maritime economy to unlock the economic potential of South Africa, in line with the government’s Operation Phakisa initiative,” said Vallihu.
MVEZO is expected to be delivered to the Port of Port Elizabeth in February 2016, followed by a new boat every three months until all nine are delivered in 2018.
The $98 Million Project
The tug building project kicked off in August 2014, and given the tight delivery schedule five tugs are under construction simultaneously at any given time. TNPA programme manager Eugene Rappetti, Senior Manager for Marine Operations, said TNPA had 29 tugs presently in service nationally, but the requirement for bigger, strong tugboat fleets had increased in line with bigger commercial vessels calling at South African ports more frequently.
“TNPA’s new fleet will include nine tugs that are 31 meters long with a 70-ton bollard pull. The older tugs have 32.5- to 40-ton pulls. The increased bollard pull of these new generation tugs meets international standards and they also feature the latest global technology. The tugs have Voith Scheider propulsion which makes them highly maneuvrable and able to change the direction and thrust almost instantaneously while guiding large vessels safely into our ports,” he said.
Southern African Shipyards, which owns and operates the largest shipyard in Southern Africa, also built TNPA’s previous 12 tugs. Subcontractors on the project include Barloworld Equipment, Siemens, Voith Schneider, as well as local contractors such as Bradgary Marine Shopfitters.
“We have also committed to ensuring that each tug has a minimum of 60 percent locally manufactured components, while partnering with international companies on the remaining aspects that cannot be manufactured here, for example the engines and propulsion units,” said CEO Maharaj, noting that the project helped to create 500 direct and 3,500 indirect jobs.