New TNPA tug sets sail

2016-04-13 06:00
Photos: Roy Reed On the tug (from left) Brooke Tarin (Southern African Shipyards technical manager), Don Arbuckle (TNPA marine technical manager) and Thandi Mehlo, TNPA senior marine engineer and project manager).

Photos: Roy Reed On the tug (from left) Brooke Tarin (Southern African Shipyards technical manager), Don Arbuckle (TNPA marine technical manager) and Thandi Mehlo, TNPA senior marine engineer and project manager).

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THE first of Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA) nine new, powerful tugboats set sail from the Durban premises of contractor, Southern African Shipyards, on Saturday, 2 April destined for its new home at the Port of Port Elizabeth.

The tug was ceremonially launched as Mvezo last October. It arrived in Port Elizabeth in the early hours of Monday, 4 April.

Port Elizabeth port manager, Rajesh Dana, said: “The arrival of Mvezo in the Eastern Cape is particularly significant given that the tug was named after the small village in our province where former president, Nelson Mandela, was born. So in a sense we really are welcoming her home.

“Mvezo will assist in bolstering the efficiency of our port’s marine operations. She will be the first of two new large, powerful tugs planned for our fleet as part of this large-scale contract,” he added.

The nine-tug contract – valued at R1.4 billion – is the largest single contract TNPA has ever awarded to a South African company for the building of harbour craft.

TNPA Chief Executive, Richard Vallihu, said after the tug’s ceremonial launch last year: “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.”

Two tugs each will be allocated to the ports of Durban, Richards Bay and Port Elizabeth, while Saldanha, which handles the largest carriers, would receive three tugs.


The tug-building project kicked off in August 2014 and is providing a big boost to the local economy over its 42 month life span. Given the project’s tight deadlines 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 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 metres long with a 70 ton bollard pull. The older tugs have 32.5 to 40 ton pulls.

Durban-based Southern African Shipyards, which owns and operates the largest shipyard in southern Africa, also built TNPA’s previous 12 tugs. The company scooped the latest contract through an open and transparent process. Its employees have a 12% stake in the company, which has 60% black ownership.

Subcontractors on the project include multi-nationals Barloworld Equipment, Siemens, Voith Schneider, and local contractors, Bradgary Marine Shopfitters.

CEO Maharaj said his company had created 500 direct and 3 500 indirect jobs through the project.
“We have also committed to ensuring that each tug has a minimum of 60% locally manufactured components, while partnering with international companies on the remaining aspects that cannot be manufactured here, for example the engines and propulsion units,” he said. - Supplied.

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