South Africa’s busiest port has taken delivery of its first new tug, the sixth of nine powerful new vessels to roll off the production line in the port city of Durban, on time and within budget. Named Umbilo, the vessel was launched at an official ceremony in Durban on 26 May 2017.

Umbilo is part of Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA) R1.4 billion tug building contract awarded to Durban-based Southern African Shipyards. It is the largest ever awarded to a South African company for the building of harbour craft.

TNPA Chief Executive, Richard Vallihu, says a new tug is exactly what the Port of Durban needs.

“Over the past few years, Durban has seen larger vessels calling at the port. This has put a strain on our marine fleet. Currently the port has a total of eight tugs of which four are old shuttle tugs with only 32 and 38 ton bollard pull power.”

As a result of the tug shortage, the port has been deploying a five tug operation to help guide vessels into the port instead of the industry request to use a six tug operation.

The nine tugs are being built for TNPA over three-and-a-half years, as part of a wider fleet replacement programme that also includes new dredging vessels and new marine aviation helicopters.

TNPA’s new fleet of nine tugs are each 31metres long with a 70ton bollard pull. They feature the latest global technology such as Voith Schneider propulsion which makes them highly manoeuvrable.

Umbilo is among four tugs that will be deployed to beef up the marine fleet in KwaZulu-Natal’s ports of Durban and Richards Bay. Five tugs have already been delivered to Port Elizabeth, Saldanha and Richards Bay

Transnet National Ports Authority,

Richard Vallihu