PE firm builds R100m tug
The first seabed leveller plough tug manufactured on Port Elizabeth’s shores is near completion and set to smooth over sea sand in the next three months.
The R100m construction project was a momentous moment for the city’s boat-building sector, Tide Marine Shipyard director Taneal Crocker said.
Weighing about 400 tons, the plough tug, manufactured by Tide Marine, will be used to flatten the seabed at harbours around the country.
This, in an effort to aid large ships and vessels entering and exiting harbours, as it also enables the draft (water level) to rise.
As construction draws to a close, a crane was seen lifting the wheelhouse and placing it onto the tug on Wednesday morning outside Tide Marine’s office at the Port of Port Elizabeth.
Crocker said she hoped this milestone would spark more interest and investment into the Nelson Mandela Bay metro’s shipbuilding and marine industries, to grow skills development initiatives in the region.
“Being a small company, we faced many challenges in seeing this project through,” she said.
“Completion was scheduled for mid-March but factors out of our control, like our weather, meant that we constantly had to readjust our plans and preparation.
“It literally took two years of planning.
“We have been doing repair work for many years, but this is our first build.
“This build has taken about 15 months,” Crocker said as the wheelhouse was being attached, all her staff standing in awe watching the process.
“Watching something grow from nothing is just absolutely incredible.”
Tide Marine was initially started by Crocker’s late fatherin-law, Trevor Crocker, and his wife, Helen, 28 years ago in East London.
Tide Marine superintendent George Joubert said about 80 people had been employed to work on the project, which excludes several sub-contractors.
“To put something like this together, you need a big workforce,” Joubert said.
“This isn’t just a great achievement for us but for Port Elizabeth as a whole.”
Crocker said the tug would be sailed to KwaZulu-Natal and the official handover would take place in Durban.
The tug, which is yet to be named, is expected to be handed over to the Transnet National Ports Authority dredging services by the end of May.
Carl Gabriel, the authority’s executive manager for dredging services, said the plough tug was the latest acquisition in dredging services’ R2bn, 25year asset replacement plan.
“This is a valuable asset because it will handle all the berth work at the ports in Durban, East London, Ngqura and Richards Bay,” Gabriel said.
“This is a first for this region [Nelson Mandela Bay].
“It’s the first project of this nature for Tide Marine Shipyard and I am sure there are going to be lots more opportunities and other builds coming to them, now that they have this experience,” he said.