SOUTH Port New Zealand has agreed to purchase a NZ$9.4-million azimuth tractor drive tug to operate at Bluff Port.

Dutch shipbuilder Damen Shipyards Group is building the ATD 2412 tug, which will have 65 tonnes bollard pull.

The new tug is already built and will replace the lower capacity Hauroko (35 tonnes bollard pull) which has been operating at the port since April 2000.

The port currently operates two tugs with a combined bollard pull of 75 tonnes. A new tug will increase its total capacity to 105 tonnes bollard pull.

South Port chief executive Nigel Gear said the COVID-19 pandemic has made the exercise of purchasing a tug more complex.

“However, the team has done an excellent job of working through this process and selecting the Damen tug,” Mr Gear said.

South Port chairman Rex Chapman said, “This is the single largest capital expenditure decision the Company has made since it was established in 1989”.

Damen sales manager Asia Pacific Sjoerd de Bruin said the company was honoured by the trust South Port placed in it.

“This is a significant sale for Damen and investment for South Port,” he said.

“I am impressed with the proactive, efficient way they have managed the process. I am looking forward to delivering this vessel to them and have full confidence that she will meet their needs.”

Due to Damen’s practice of building standardised vessels in series and for stock, the ATD Tug 2412 was already being built at Damen Song Cam Shipyard in Vietnam at the time of contract signing. The yard will complete construction and deliver the vessel in Q3 this year.