TOWAGE operator Svitzer commenced operations at the Port of Dampier for Woodside Energy at the beginning of this month.

Svitzer is providing both towage services and pilot transfer services for Woodside export terminals with five newbuild tugs and a new pilot boat.

Two of the new tugs, Svitzer Bilby and Svitzer Dorado, are supporting early operations. Three further new builds are to delivered over coming months.

A team of more than 35

Svitzer Australia managing director Videlina Georgieva said the company is committed to investing in world-class towage infrastructure in Australia and to employing, training and developing the current and future generation of Australian seafarers.

“We look forward to serving Woodside Energy and its customers and the wider Dampier and Karratha community safely, reliably and efficiently,” she said.

“In addition of the investment in Australian-designed and constructed shipbuilding with the new pilot boat, we are looking forward to building on our investment in local employment, supporting other local industries and training and development.”

 Ms Georgieva welcomed the more than 35 new employees to the Svitzer team in Dampier.

“We recognise the fantastic efforts by our implementation team to get operations underway safely and their efforts to work closely with our customer throughout,” she said.

A Woodside spokesperson said it had successfully transitioned towage operations to the new contractor Svitzer.

“Woodside Port Operations personnel worked closely with Svitzer, over an extended period, to ensure the transition was carried out safely with towage requirements met,” the spokesperson said.

“It has been a good start to the new contract, and we look forward to building on the relationship already formed with Svitzer.”

The new vessels

Svitzer’s new tugs for the operation are RAstar 2800-CL designed tugs, with 80 tonnes of bollard pull, 4700 kilowatts of power, a top speed of 13 knots and FiFi1 firefighting systems. The engines in the tugs are IMO Tier II caterpillar 3516E 6T engines.

 Each of the new tugs have Schottel SYDRIVE-M hybrid propulsion. This means the port and starboard azimuth thrusters are connected. This enables both thrusters to be powered by either one of the vessel’s engines.

This design can be more fuel-efficient, particularly where light operations do not require the full power of both engines.

WA shipbuilder Dongara Marine delivered the pilot transfer vessel – the Svitzer Marlin.

The vessel is a 17.2-metre Berkley Class pilot vessel. The Svitzer Marlin has just over 900 kilowatts (1200HP) of power – and has been achieving an average fully loaded speed of just under 36 knots.