Pacific Towing (PacTow) is celebrating the return of its tug Waiowa to the water. One of PacTow’s 11 tugs, Waiowa is back at work following an engine replacement. Predominantly used for open ocean towage and salvage projects, Waiowa has already been utilised on three projects since re-joining the PacTow fleet.

Waiowa is a 35-metre-long azimuth stern drive (ASD) tug with a 57-tonne bollard pull and 4300 brake horsepower. Although its home base is PacTow’s headquarters in Port Moresby, Waiowa will be deployed throughout PNG and Melanesia, as well as further afield in South East Asia and Oceania as required.

PacTow’s in-house workshop, maintenance, and engineering teams installed Waiowa’s new engine, which was sourced from India with the assistance of Australia Pacific Maritime.

PacTow general manager Neil Papenfus said COVID-19 supply chain challenges delayed the engine’s replacement, but that Waiowa is “in class with Lloyd’s Register, fully operational, and very much as good as new”.

A delicate procedure

The Waiowa’s engine replacement was a multi-stage endeavour. First, the old engine was stripped of all bolt-on items while still inside the Waiowa. While dry docked at PNG Dock Yards, the side of the hull was cut open (approximately 2.2 metres high by 1.5 metres wide) so that the old engine main tablature could be removed.

The new engine, weighing just under 20 tonnes, was hoisted onto a structure of purpose-fabricated rails so that it could be rolled through the hole cut in the hull in to Waiowa’s engine room. Once inside, the engine was again hoisted up and then rotated 90 degrees so that it would align with the gearbox.

The hull was then welded back up and vacuum tested before being removed from docking and put back in the water. The PacTow team then worked on re-assembling the modified standalone starboard lube oil system, cooling water mechanisms, sea water pipework, electrics and other systems.

Expertise at work

Mr Papenfus said the installation of the Waiowa’s new 19.7-tonne engine required “engineering excellence, innovation, and lots of teamwork” and “PacTow is in the fortunate position of having its own in-house expertise and capacity to conduct major maintenance projects on our fleet.”

In-house capacity has never been more valuable to PNG businesses than in the past two years when it has been next to impossible to get specialist technicians into the country and when international supply chains are so unreliable.

PacTow delivers marine services throughout PNG and the broader Pacific. PacTow is part of a larger sea and land logistics group wholly owned by Steamships Limited.