Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has celebrated a twin milestone for its KwaZulu-Natal ports as part of its R1.4 billion, nine-tug construction contract.

On 22 August 2017 the new USIBA tug was christened and named ahead of its delivery to the Port of Richards Bay, while the Port of Durban took delivery of its UMBILO tug which had been launched and named in May.

The vessels are the sixth and seventh respectively to roll off the production line on time and within budget. All nine tugs are being built by Southern African Shipyards in Durban.

The name USIBA is derived from the isiZulu word for the Black-crowned Night-Heron, but can also refer to a feather.

The Port of Richards Bay has a tradition of naming its marine fleet after treasured South African birds, such as the UKHOZI tug (eagle) and the older INDWE (blue crane).

In line with maritime tradition the ceremonial duty of christening the vessel was carried out by Lady Sponsor, Judith Nzimande.

Nzimande is presently the President of the Zululand Chamber of Commerce and Industry. She also sits on the Executive Committee of Richards Bay Coal Terminal, one of the leading coal export terminals in the world based at TNPA’s top port in terms of cargo volumes, the Port of Richards Bay.

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