Cape Town gets second 70 TBP tug

Umbilo tug. Credit: TNPA

A second new 70 ton bollard pull (TBP) tug has been deployed to the Port of Cape Town to improve safety and efficiency in handling the increasing number of larger commercial vessels calling at the port.

The tug, named Umbilo, was redeployed from the Port of Durban, in line with the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) resource allocation strategy, which it adjusts according the infrastructure needs.

The Port of Cape Town’s old fleet of tugs had only 30–40 TBP, which was a disadvantage in servicing larger vessels, especially given that adverse weather often shuts down port operations.

In summer, the southeastern wind that blows across Table Bay can reach speeds of up to 160 km/h, while in the winter months, the south-southwest/southwesterly swells affect shipping. The average time lost in Cape Town owing to inclement weather is approximately five days per month.

The first 70 TBP tug, Usiba, originally intended for the Port of Richards Bay, arrived in Cape Town last year.

Built in 2017, Umbilo was the sixth of nine powerful new vessels to roll off the production line as part of the ZAR1.4 billion (USD95 million) tug construction contract being executed by Durban ship builder Southern African Shipyards. The two big tugs feature the latest global technology such as Voith Schneider propellers, and each is 31 m-long.

TNPA is busy with a craft replacement strategy at the port, which includes acquiring two new workboats and a helicopter for marine pilot transfers in the near future.