On Friday 8th June, NSW Minister for Ports Duncan Gay was joined by over one hundred port users and stakeholders to officially open Port Kembla's new Tug Fleet Base.
The new facility has been constructed to safely and securely house the tug fleet that services the port of Port Kembla in all weather conditions.
Future port growth plans and the age of the existing tug jetty required a new all-weather base for the fleet and in 2010 the decision was made by the PKPC Board to replace the facility rather than spend the significant amount necessary to repair the old structure.
Port Kembla's Number 3 Jetty, the previous home of the tug fleet, is one of the oldest remaining timber jetties in the port. Constructed between 1937 and 1940, it initially operated as a general cargo jetty but since 1983 has been used primarily for the berthing of tugs. Having been in operation for some 70 years, the old jetty has serviced the port well but is now in poor condition and is unsuitable for use during bad weather conditions.
The new Tug Fleet Base was built in consultation with the ports existing towage provider Svitzer. The design process for the new facility was comprehensive with consideration of cost, safety and 24/7 availability being high on the mandatory list of outcomes required.
Construction of the facility included the building of a new breakwater of approximately 250m in length, with approximately 85 000 tonnes of interburden rock material used to form the core of the breakwater structure.
The use of floating pontoons in the design of the facility, as opposed to the previous rigid structure, provides safe and secure access and egress to the tugs as the tugs and pontoons will move up and down in tandem. The large steel pontoons that were used are approximately 80 tonnes in weight and 30m long with the widest being over 7m wide.
The facility will initially allow for the permanent berthing of 4 tugs with provision for a further two in the future, should they be required.
With the old jetty due to be demolished, PKPC has worked with local contractors to undertake a comprehensive archival recording consisting of historical plans, photos, oral recollections and details regarding the construction and use of the jetty.
Local tug operators Svitzer are currently completing construction of their facilities and amenities on the site.