On 26 May 2017 the sixth of nine powerful new tugs rolled 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. Executive Mayor of eThekwini, Councillor Zandile Gumede, performed the ceremonial duty of Lady Sponsor to christen the vessel.
Umbilo is part of Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA) R1.4 billion tug building contract awarded to Durban-based Southern African Shipyards, the largest ever awarded to a South African company for the building of harbour craft.
The Port of Durban has seen larger vessels calling at the port, putting a strain on the 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.
Having a new and a powerful tug in the port will release pressure on the port’s marine operations and speed up turnaround times for vessels calling at the port.