Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) is on track with its R1.4 billion tug building contract and today celebrated the ceremonial launch of the fourth of its nine new tugs being built in Durban.
The tug – named OSPREY in honour of the fish eagle – will serve at the Port of Saldanha. In line with maritime tradition, the duty of officially naming the vessel was carried out by Lady Sponsor, Thandeka Mabija, who earlier this month was appointed General Manager for Human Resources at TNPA.
TNPA Chief Operating Officer, Phyllis Difeto, said: “The work by Durban ship builder, Southern African Shipyards, on this project has helped to cement the marine ship building and support industry locally. Having a local manufacturer also promises excellent after-sales support for the 35-year service life of these vessels. Local ship building expertise is exactly what the government’s Operation Phakisa initiatives aim to leverage in unlocking the potential of the Ocean Economy.”
This is the largest single contract TNPA has ever awarded to a South African company for the building of harbour craft. Nine new tugs are being built over three and a half years, as part of a wider fleet replacement programme that covers tugs, new dredging vessels and new marine aviation helicopters. The programme – aimed at improving operational efficiency in the ports – sits within TNPA’s R56 billion contribution to Transnet’s R300 billion-plus Market Demand Strategy. Five tugs are under construction simultaneously at any given time due to the project’s tight deadlines.
To date two tugs – MVEZO and QUNU – have been delivered to the Port of Port Elizabeth. Saldanha took delivery of CORMORANT in August and OSPREY will be delivered in December, followed by the port’s third tug next year. The Ports of Durban and Richards Bay will also receive two new tugs. There will be handovers every three months until the last tug is launched in early 2018.
Southern African Shipyards CEO, Prasheen Maharaj said the launch of OSPREY to TNPA has yet again demonstrated the capabilities of the South African shipbuilding industry.
“This is the fourth tug that has been completed on time and within specifications. The OSPREY is tangible proof that South African shipbuilders can deliver technologically advanced, world-class products and can build, support and sustain the technologically superior capabilities of these tugs. Southern African Shipyards is well on its way to delivering the remaining five tugs to TNPA within the timelines agreed upon. While celebrating this significant milestone we implore South African parastatals to continue to support the local shipbuilding industry,” he said.
Karl Wiesner, Chief Commercial Operations Officer at Southern African Shipyards, agreed. “South Africa is investing to secure trade through our ports through the TNPA tug programme and to continue to transition to our new ocean economy. The Government’s significant investment in our shipbuilding industry will support long-term highly skilled jobs in building, maintaining and sustaining cutting-edge ships for Transnet,” he said.
Wiesner said a vibrant and strong local shipbuilding industry would promote innovation and technology and provide advanced manufacturing jobs for South Africans for decades to come.
“We encourage Government to continue with these investments in the shipbuilding industry for the continued development of appropriate levels of skills and technology transfer to our workforce,” he added.
TNPA’s new fleet of nine tugs are each 31 metres long with a 70 ton bollard pull. The older fleet of 29 tugs has 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 such as Voith Schneider propulsion which makes them highly manoeuvrable and able to change direction and thrust almost instantaneously while guiding large vessels safely into South Africa’s ports.