Copenhagen-based Svitzer Towage has reported an agreement to provide five new powerful RAstar 2800 tugs to service BHP’s Port Hedland terminal operations in Western Australia.

When it comes to bulk export terminals, Port Hedland is in a league of its own. It is the world’s largest iron ore loading port, with 19 berths accommodating 6,689 vessel movements in 2021 and an annual throughput of 561 million tonnes over the same period.

All six tugs mentioned here are to Robert Allan Ltd's RAstar design (Svitzer)

All six tugs mentioned here are to Robert Allan Ltd’s RAstar design  

Source: Svitzer

Handling large bulk carriers requires a large fleet of powerful high-quality tugs and the new vessels, due in the first half of 2024, will operate on a five-year, long-term charter agreement (with a five-year extension option) replacing older tugs as they are delivered into service.

Svitzer provides exclusive commercial representations on behalf of BHP to customers seeking to use the latter’s towage services at Port Hedland, Svitzer saying the new additions will enhance the capability of the existing 17-vessel fleet.

With an eye to efficiency and reducing emissions, the 80tbp tugs will be equipped with Schottel’s Sydrive-M system, allowing both thrusters to be run by one engine for low load periods. The vessels have a length of 28m, speed of 13kn and power of 4,700kW.

In separate news from Svitzer, also involving Robert Allan Ltd’s RAstar design, Turkey’s Uzmar Shipbuilding has delivered the larger 3200-W variant escort tug Svitzer Elizabeth for operations in Port of Liverpool, UK. It is the first Uzmar-built tug to be part of Svitzer’s European fleet and the twelfth hull to this design to be delivered with more on the order books.

Key particulars for the BV-classed, 80+tbp tug include: LOA 32m, beam moulded 13.2m, depth least moulded 5.5m and 499grt. Main machinery comprises two Caterpillar 3516E main engines rated 2,350bkW at 1,800rpm. Propulsion is via Kongsberg US255 Z-drives with 2.8m FP propellers and exhaust after-treatment ensures Svitzer Elizabeth complies with IMO Tier III requirements. Tank capacities include 199m3 of fuel oil and 40m3 fresh water with the vessel’s notation including fire-fighting 1 with waterspraying and unrestricted navigation.

The tug has accommodation for a particularly high number of personnel, facilities provided for up to 10 persons in two single and four double berth cabins plus spare. The cabins are MLC 2006 compliant, all six provided with natural light and private ensuite WCs.