Transnets National Ports Authority’s (TNPA) trailing suction hopper dredger (THSD) was officially named at a ceremony at the IHC Merwede shipyard, where it was manufactured in Rotterdam on May 9. The R889-million dredger contract was completed within budget and three months ahead of schedule, Southlands Sun reported.
With a focus on improving the skills of South Africans and using local products, certain components were manufactured in SA. As part of IHC Merwede’s goal to transfer knowledge to the local industry, there is a plan to bring a dredging training centre, with Africa’s first dredging simulator, to the TNPA or the Transnet Maritime School of Excellence in Durban, ultimately enabling TNPA to train its own South African dredge masters.
So far, TNPA’s dredging fleet renewal programme has seen the delivery of a trailing suction hopper dredger, the Isandlwana and a grab hopper dredger, the Italeni, along with the replacement of two hydrographic survey boats.
“For TNPA, having a reliable, world-class dredging fleet plays a vital role in facilitating economic growth within the country by ensuring our ports’ entrance channels, basins and berths are a sufficient depth and well-maintained. The majority of this work can only be done by having two reliable THSDs in operation. We will only be in this position early next year, so we are very pleased with the early delivery times and thank the management of IHC for prioritising our build,” said TNPA chief executive Richard Vallihu.
The Ilembe was designed to have low maintenance costs and improved productivity. It will run a 24-hour operation, twice as long as the current standard. It will be self-sufficient, with its own workboat, which will be used as a hydrographic survey boat and for other functions.
“From keel laying in January of this year to launching took us only four months, which is a record. We have promised TNPA we will do our utmost to get the dredger to South Africa as soon as possible, and we are working very hard to make that happen,” said IHC Merwede executive director of shipbuilding, Fer Tummers.