Tugs named as minister visits port

Apr 9, 2004
Author: P&S

Two Durban-built tugs finally received their official christening this week when a visiting entourage of senior Transnet and National Ports Authority (NPA) managers accompanied by the minister of public enterprises, Mr Jeff Radebe, paid an official visit to the port of Durban on Thursday (8 April).

During his visit the minister unveiled plaques at the Millennium Tower on the Bluff (the futuristic building houses the port control, vessel tracking and search and rescue offices), as well as the training simulator housed at the Bayhead NPA Academy.

Later the party moved to the small craft basin where the tugs Uthukela and Mkhuze were christened respectively by Her Majesty Queen Thandi Zwelethini and Mrs Nelli Khumalo, wife of Transnet Board chairman Dr Bongani Khumalo.

The tugs were built by SAFBuild at the Durban shipyard of SA Shipyards at a cost of over R100 million. Each Voith Schneider propelled tug has a bollard pull of 55.5t at 100% power and 28t with one engine running. Both vessels, which carry sophisticated fire fighting equipment (as was demonstrated in 2003 with the fire on board the container ship Sea Elegance outside Durban – see Ports & Ships News dated 11-17 October 2003), entered service during 2003.

They joined the first two tugs in the series, Palmiet and Enseleni, which have since been transferred to Cape Town. The tugs carry a crew of three, as opposed to seven in the older tugs in service (see related items in Ports & Ships News dated 17 January, 1 February, 10 February, 6 April and 18 June 2003).

The new series of tugs have all so far been named for rivers in KwaZulu Natal. Note that the spelling of two of the tug names has altered since launching


The Norwegian-made ship-handling simulator at the NPA Training Academy has been in service since late last year and is used to assist the training of tug officers and pilots with the National Ports Authority, as well as other candidates from outside South Africa.

According to Mthunzi Luthuli, chief executive officer of the NPA division Portcon Consulting, which is responsible for the NPA’s international business and training, the simulator means that South Africa is less dependent on foreign training institutions for the training of shipmasters and pilots.

At one time most of South Africa’s ship officer training was performed to international standards via the merchant marine and within the port service but in recent years with the fast tracking of marine officers into the harbour service, the candidates were sent overseas, principally to Rotterdam.

“Following the successful training programme in Rotterdam, it was decided to purchase high quality training while shortening the time required to train and qualify pilots. Prior to the acquisition, the first group of 12 trainee pilots was sent to Rotterdam,” said Luthuli.

As a consequence the NPA acquired the state-of-the-art full mission bridge simulator with the assistance of the Netherlands Government and the first 15 trainee pilots graduated from the local programme last year (see related items in Ports & Ships News dated 10 September and 2 December 2003)

“At present pilot training is the primary focus but several other training programmes are planned. The availability of the simulator will also assist with research and development projects by way of enabling predictability,” Luthuli said.

Refresher courses will also be offered at the Port Academy through the simulator, in accordance with international practice and to maintain the prerequisite global standards.

Programmes that are to be offered include:

Global Maritime Distress and Safety System
Radar navigation, radar plotting, use of automatic radar plotting aids
Radar, Bridge Teamwork and Search & Rescue
Restricted Operator’s Certificate for GMDSS
Maritime English
Engineer Officer in Charge of a Watch
Tanker familiarisation
Specialised training in oil tankers
Electronic navigation systems
Navigational information systems

The Maritime Services related courses include

Piloting design
Port design
Tug/Ship interaction

Also available will be tailor made courses to suit the client, such as within the fishing industry and for yachtsmen

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