A tug here, a tug there
POWER, skill and technology combine to safely manoeuvre giant ships in Gladstone harbour.
SMIT Marine Australia yesterday hosted The Observer on a tug operation on the harbour.
Shipping safety has become a hot topic in Gladstone, as the region counts down to its first LNG shipments.
Two hours on a tug, the SMIT Yallarm, showed the planning and attention behind the shipping process.
The SMIT Yallarm, with its crew of three, launched from the company's base and travelled to South Trees anchorage where it met the bulk carrier coal ship Coral Sapphire.
The first thing you notice when you walk towards a tug is how big it is.
The first thing you notice as you sail towards a coal ship is how small your tug is.
The Coral Sapphire, towering above the tug, slowly spun 180 degrees, before making its way toward RG Tanna Coal Terminal.
A second tug joined the party on entering Auckland Channel and the crew of the Coral Sapphire attached a line from the Yallarm. The two tugs then accompanied the coal ship to RG Tanna, where they combined to pivot the coal ship 180 degrees again before it was tied to the wharf.
SMIT vessel manager Philip Immoos said tug masters and their crews were highly qualified, with extensive experience in the shipping industry before they even had the chance to get the Master class 4 Certificate necessary to take charge of a tug.
Packing a punch
The SMIT Yallarm is 30m long and 455 tonnes. It has two V16 Caterpillar engines with combined power of 4000 kilowatts.
SMIT currently has six tugs in Gladstone. That number will rise as shipping increases.