"One of the benefits of being a multi-port authority running a complementary port system, is that we are able to pool our resources between our ports and to adjust plans where necessary. Originally, tugs in this order were planned for the Ports of Durban, Richards Bay, Saldanha and Port Elizabeth, where the needs at the time were assessed as being the greatest.
"However, we have since taken the decision to redeploy the seventh tug, USIBA, from Richards Bay to Cape Town instead," she said.
Sesoko said the Port of Cape Town had recently experienced an upsurge in larger vessels requiring tugs with a more powerful bollard pull. Meanwhile, the Port of Richards Bay had already received three new tugs in recent years.
"TNPA has assessed and mitigated this risk to ensure that Richards Bay's port operations are not compromised. In future orders where Cape Town is catered for, a tug will be reimbursed to the Port of Richards Bay," she said.
Sesoko gave the assurance that TNPA would continue to roll out its fleet replacement program to best serve all its ports and their customers.
Through the current tug construction project TNPA and Southern African Shipyards have created 500 direct and 3500 indirect jobs with a minimum of 60% locally manufactured components.
Subcontractors involved on the project include international subcontractors with local operations such as Barloworld Equipment, Siemens and Voith Schneider, as well as local contractors such as Bradgary Marine Shopfitters.
The nine tugs are being built for TNPA over three and a half years, with five under construction at any given time, as part of a wider fleet replacement program that also includes new dredging vessels and new marine aviation helicopters.