Two state-of-the-art tugs, were handed over to South Africa's port utility Portnet by shipbuilder SAFbuild at the Port of Durban on Friday. The tugs were commissioned as part of Portnet's ship-handling capability program to meet the increasing volumes of trade passing through the Port of Durban, and to efficiently handle larger container liners calling at the port.
The tugs' fire-fighting capabilities have been upgraded in that they now comply with international fire fighting Fi-Fi regulations. The tug contract marks the entry into the shipbuilding industry by a black economic empowerment (BEE) company--SAFbuild is a joint venture between Southern African Shipyards Ltd. and SAFreight Ltd., a black controlled company. At a naming ceremony held in Durban today, the tugs were accepted on behalf of Portnet by Bheki Sibiya, Transnet executive director. In keeping with the Portnet tradition of naming tugs after rivers at the Port of Durban, the tugs were named the Palmiet and Enseleni. The acquisition of the tugs has come at a good time with the Port of Durban, especially, facing a sustained increase in containerized cargo, Portnet said in a statement.
The acquisition is also in line with a decision taken by major shipping lines to commission fourth-generation 290-meter container liners on the South African route. In recent bollard pull, harbor and sea trials, the new tugs have far exceeded expected capabilities. In the bollard pull trials, they have achieved a 58.9-ton pulling power, up from the stipulated requirement of 50-tons. This compares favorably with existing tugs at Durban (35-ton capability) and Richards Bay and Saldanha Bay (42-ton capacity).
The tugs incorporate the latest international design developments, and follow Portnet research which identified the most suitable design for local use. Their above-average power is made possible by omni-directional vertical blade propulsion. Low maintenance costs will offset slight increases in fuel consumption needed by the higher horsepower engines, while expected reductions in manning levels will have a positive effect across operations.