Karoo 11

A vessel with greater power and wider capabilities has arrived at Port Taranaki to replace the oldest member of the tug fleet.

Karoo, a 30m long, stern drive tug, with 50 tonnes of bollard pull, a large working deck and forward and aft winches, arrived from Albany, Australia early today, where she has been serving as the emergency towing vessel for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

The vessel replaces tug Rupe, which Port Taranaki bought new in 1984 and has been part of the port fleet since. Rupe has been put up for sale and will be released when sold.

“Rupe has been a very good and capable tug for Port Taranaki for the past 40 years. However, with vessels now larger and more powerful, her design and bollard pull of 29 tonnes are no longer appropriate for our needs,” Port Taranaki marine manager Ben Martin said.

Karoo is a stern drive tug, where the propellers are at the rear, or stern, of the vessel. This style is new to Port Taranaki, whose current fleet consists of tractor tugs, where the propellers are at the bow, or front.

“It’s a bit of a change for our team, and it gives us the opportunity to learn this configuration and realise the benefits of such a vessel for the Port Taranaki operating environment.”

Port Taranaki’s tug crews will spend two weeks of training and familiarisation before Karoo is put into work.

Although Karoo was built in 1991, her greater power and certification to operate up to 200 nautical miles offshore, made her an attractive acquisition.

“As with buying any second-hand vehicle, machinery or equipment, some compromises have to be made, and in this instance, we’ve had to compromise on the vessel’s age. However, we believe her power, capabilities and the opportunities she provides the port in the future outweigh this,” Mr Martin said.

Port Taranaki chief executive Simon Craddock said the business had spent close to two years searching for the right tug to replace Rupe.

“Our fleet strategy has been adapted over that period as trade and market conditions have changed and new opportunities have arisen.

“The intent is that Karoo will serve up to the next 10 years at Port Taranaki, supporting our current trade and possible future trade opportunities, such as offshore wind developments and oil and gas decommissioning.”

Mr Craddock said the vessel fleet, like the wharves, was a key port asset.

“So ensuring we have the right vessels to support our mix of trade now and in the future is crucial. We’re really excited to have Karoo as part of the Port Taranaki fleet and look forward to utilising all of her capabilities,” he said.

Sporting a deep blue hull and cream (buff) superstructure, there are no immediate plans to repaint Karoo in the signal orange of Port Taranaki’s other tugs.

“She has had a reasonably recent and good quality repaint in previous owner Svitzer’s colours so, for the time being, she will remain distinctive from our other tugs,” Mr Craddock said.

“We would, however, like to give her a name that reflects her new home and the Taranaki region she’ll be operating in, so we’re in the process of working alongside Ngāti Te Whiti hapū on choosing a new name. We look forward to sharing this with the community.”

Karoo joins Tuakana and Kīnaki in the tug fleet. Kīnaki is the port’s newest tug, having been built in 2018 to replace the 45-year-old Kupe.

Karoo facts

Length: 30.31m

Beam: 10.75m

Draft: 4.97m

Gross tonnage: 307 tonnes

Date launched: 1991

Type: Azimuth Stern Drive tug

Engines: 2x Caterpillar engines

Maximum speed: 13.3 knots

Bollard pull: 50 tonnes

Winches: 1x forward, 1x aft

Towing hook: 1x 

Photo: Port Taranaki tug master Joe Govier, left, marine deck crew James Robinson, and tug master David Scott onboard Karoo.





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