THE VESSEL Smit Lamnalco will use for the first two years of AMSA’s new first response capability contract in the Torres Strait and on the Great Barrier Reef is under refit in Singapore.

Reef Keeper, a 1290 GT AHTS (anchor-handling tug/supply ship) built by the ABG Shipyard in Mumbai in 2010 as Lamnalco Manakin and renamed SL Manakin in 2015, is expected to arrive in Cairns next month before taking up the new ETV contract.

AMSA announced on 6 December last year that it had signed a 10-year deal with Smit Lamnalco to commence from July 2024 after the current contract with AMS Group/Teekay Australia using Coral Knight ends.

SL has order a new ETV, a Robert Allan-designed RAsalvor 6500, which will have a 46% increase in bollard pull power (120 tonnes versus 82 tonnes) to tow bigger ships, and a greater top speed for a faster response time.

Reef Keeper, which also has greater bollard pull (of 100 tonnes) and better speedwill provide interim capability while the new vessel is built. The dedicated vessel is expected to come online in mid-2026; both the interim and dedicated SL vessels will also have an extra crew complement, totalling 12 crew members.

AMSA said the new vessel would also be more fuel efficient than incumbent Coral Knight (currently listed for sale), with a hybrid propulsion system that allows the power generation system to be optimised for the desired operational profile and speed. Consideration has also been given in the design stage for the use of methanol as an alternative future fuel source which aligns with the global push to reduce emissions and decarbonise shipping.

SL MD Australia & PNG David Fethers today confirmed Reef Keeper is presently out of the water in Singapore, having undergone its name change, change of flag of registry and now repainting. SL expects the vessel reach Cairns in the first week of June.