Monday, December 7, 2015

Workboats Keep Freight Arteries Open as Container Ships Grow Ever Larger

Across the World Ports and River Authorities Invest to Stay Ahead
Shipping News Feature
UK – SOUTH AFRICA – As container ships get ever larger the ports and river authorities worldwide need to constantly upgrade equipment to ensure the liquid arteries which deliver freight to the cities and beyond remain unclogged. Last month we told how the Port of London Authority (PLA) had launched its new, versatile workhorse and now comes details of a vessel destined to undertake similar essential tasks in warmer climes.

The Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has already invested around £41 million in a trailing suction hopper dredger, the Ilembe, which is due to start work next year scouring out approach channels for the bigger vessels. Now significant progress has been made on the Inyosi, the workboat which will support operations.

During November Nautic Africa celebrated a milestone with the relocation of the Inyosi’s hull from a separate site to the company’s premises to enable the wheelhouse to be attached. The hull was built elsewhere to avoid contamination between its steel structure and the aluminium of the wheelhouse constructed at Nautic Africa’s premises. Nautic Africa sourced the aluminium for the wheelhouse from a supplier in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. The engine, which was also 100% locally manufactured, was supplied by Caterpillar Marine Power.

A team of sixty people has been involved in the production of the 11 metre workboat, 25 people on the design and 35 on the construction. Carl Gabriel, head of TNPA’s Dredging Services Division, said:

“The combination workboat/hydrographic survey boat is being built by Nautic Africa in Cape Town, as part of the supplier development programme for the Ilembe dredger contract which was awarded to Royal IHC in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Very importantly, the Inyosi will be fully equipped to conduct hydrographic surveys, which usually require TNPA to transport its survey craft from port to port.

“She will accompany the Ilembe dredger on her voyages to other ports and will ferry stores, spares and crew to the dredger without the need for extra tugs, thus saving fuel and enabling the Ilembe to be self-sufficient. When not in use the Inyosi will be lifted onto the Ilembe using the dredger’s crane and housed on a purpose-built cradle.”

The news comes just as TNPA has announced its Integrated Port Management System (IPMS) has now been rolled out across all eight of its ports. Since IPMS was first introduced in July, more than 300 vessel agents have registered onto the system and more than 1600 vessel arrival notifications have been submitted across all eight ports.

Meanwhile the Port of London Authority (PLA) vessel we wrote of last month, the London Titan, was officially named on December 3 at a ceremony held at Tower Pier. Christened by Jackie Doyle-Price MP the vessel will keep the river clear of obstructions and channels clearly marked for all to use. She has been specially built to be capable of working from Richmond in west London all the way out into the Thames estuary. Her work is vital on a river that is home to the UK’s second biggest port, busiest inland waterway for passengers and freight and a centre for sporting and recreational activity. The Thurrock MP said:

“The Thames plays a vital role in the Thurrock economy, so naming this boat, which keeps the river safe and open for business, is fantastic. Many people forget that the Thames is a major shipping channel. Thurrock is home to the major operations at the Port of Tilbury, Cobelfret and Vopak. In fact, more cargo is landed at the terminals in Thurrock than comes in via Felixstowe or Dover. The PLA investment in London Titan underpins operators’ confidence to invest, generating jobs and growth and underlines that fact that the Port of London remains a key part of the economic infrastructure of London and the South East.”

The PLA’s biggest single investment in over 20 years, London Titan was designed by naval architects MacDuff Ship Design, working with PLA marine engineers, masters and crews. She was built at Manor Marine’s shipyard in Portland, Dorset to Lloyd’s Register class. Recent Thames investments include: two new MBNA Thames Clippers ferries, a new pier at Plantation Wharf, Battersea and an extension to Bankside pier. Downriver, developments continue at the Port of Tilbury’s London Distribution Park and at London Gateway Port, where a new third berth is being built. Robin Mortimer, PLA chief executive said:

“This is a unique river which is busy and getting busier. Over the 95 miles of the Thames we look after, we’ve now got the world’s largest container ships calling, passenger trips reaching 10 million a year and inland waterways freight, like construction materials and rubbish, now at a steady five million tonnes a year.

“We’ve got to keep the Thames fit and ready for all these vessels and with over 40,000 jobs depending on the Thames, London Titan is a vital upgrade to our fleet. She brings power wedded to manoeuvrability, enabling us completely to modernise the way we work on the river on a reliable, efficient and safe working platform.”

Photo: London Titan passes under Tower Bridge.