New tug from MIPEC for Gladstone Harbour launched

AT THE back of a boat builder's yard at Gladstone Marina one pusher tug is about to embark on its first voyage of a few hundred metres.

The Sunday morning sun peaks above the clouds as MIPEC crews hurry to secure their original pusher tug Hammerhead to her brand new sister vessel Sledgehammer.

Over the next hour, Sledgehammer, the new 20m pusher tug, which has just slipped into the water for the first time, will be towed to its new home at a commissioning berth.

There the Sledgehammer will stay for routine testing and inspection before beginning a long career as a construction support vessel on Gladstone Harbour.

"Its main job is to manoeuvre barges around the harbour," MIPEC chief executive Steve Beales said.

"It can carry a 2 tonne crane on front deck."

Like the Hammerhead, the new pusher tug will work transporting resources between the mainland, Curtis Island and Wiggins Island.

The Sledgehammer cost about $4million to manufacture, took six months to draft and nine months to build.

"People say it's too expensive to built boats like this locally. All the fabrication is being done here at MIPEC," Steve said.

"I think it's better to do it this way than importing a lesser-quality vessel in Asia, with less than half the life expectancy."

The Sledgehammer is awaiting engine commissioning and stability testing before its first job.

Setting sail with satisfaction

YOU could sense the sheer excitement of boat builder Brett Smith as his latest pusher tug was winched into Gladstone Harbour on Sunday morning.

MIPEC project manager and boat builder Brett Smith.
MIPEC project manager and boat builder Brett Smith. David Sparkes

After six months on the drawing board and nine months in construction, yesterday the MIPEC boat builder's baby was ready to set sail.

"It's pretty exciting," the 35-year-old said.

"Today was very successful, there were no hiccups."

Moving from Mount Isa to Gladstone as a boy, it became clear early on that Brett had a fascination with the sea.

"I loved the water and going out on the boat," he said.

At 20 he received an apprenticeship as a boat builder before joining forces with MIPEC.

In that time he helped design and was project manager of the first pusher tug, the Hammerhead.

Tug facts

  • Length: 19.96m
  • Cost: $4million
  • Beam: 7m
  • Draft: 1.45m
  • Fuel: 2 x 2600 litres (engine room)
  • Speed (cruising): 8 knots
  • Speed (maximum): 10 knots
  • Bollard pull (max): 20 tonne



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