Port Nelson, positioned at the top of New Zealand’s South Island at the head of Tasman Bay, has taken delivery of a Damen ASD Tug 2310. Named TōIA, which is Maori for ‘to pull’, she is the first new tug there for 32 years and represents a significant upgrade of capability. Jointly owned by the Nelson City Council and the Tasman District Council, Port Nelson is a vital hub for the regional economy and is investing in its infrastructure both ashore and afloat in anticipation of growth in the years ahead.
In recent years the port has been steadily receiving ever larger ships, with vessels of up to 248m becoming regular visitors. Port Nelson is also not the easiest harbour in which to manoeuver. At 4.5 metres, the tidal range is the largest to be found anywhere in New Zealand, and it creates strong currents. Added to that are strong winds that can come up suddenly from both the south and north.
“With 50 tonnes of bollard pull the new tug will see our safety margins being much improved on the bigger ships” commented Harbour Master Dave Duncan. “Now we’ve got the power we need to slow or stop even the larger vessels moving forward, and to pull or push them against strong winds and tides.”
The 23-metre tug was built at Damen Shipyards Changde in China and is the eighteenth to be built in the series. Modifications to the standard ASD 2310 design to meet the particular needs of Port Nelson included upgrading the bollard pull from 46 to 50 tonnes, and the fitting of Panama chocks through the stern plates. Damen also built and installed a gangway to a design provided by Port Nelson.
Prior to the order being placed in late 2015, Dave Duncan travelled to China during which he inspected a recently completed 2310. “This clearly demonstrated to us the quality of the yard and its vessels, and its high environmental standards,” he reports. “The fact that another 2310 that we saw in build at the yard was being constructed without an owner’s rep on site also gave us confidence that we would receive a quality product without needing to commit significant resources to overseeing the build, despite the distances involved. All the correspondence was professionally handled by the Damen project managers using emails and phone calls. This greatly eased the build process with the open and easy flow of information from Damen meaning that we did not need to send a permanent supervisor.”
TōIA travelled the 7,280nm from Changde to Port Nelson distance on her own hull with a Dutch crew aboard and entered the harbor escorted by existing Port Nelson tugs the Huria Matenga and WH Parr together with three Waka Ama boats (large canoes with outriggers) crewed by volunteers from the Mahitahi Outrigger Canoe Club.
"This means we are good for another 30 years, judging by how we have maintained our other tugboats," Dave concluded. "We are all very pleased with our new tug, how it operates and what we can achieve with it. The quality of the finish impresses everyone who sees it for the first time.”