Marine operations at Lamu Port have received a major boost after the delivery of a new Sh1.4 billion tugboat, as Kenya races to upgrade its second commercial port into an international facility.
The Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), which acquired the port's first tugboat, to be known as Mv Pate, said it will boost efficiency at the port and is part of KPA's Sh2.7 billion investment plan to equip Lamu.
The largest tug in a fleet of seven KPA boats will be used for berthing and unberthing of ships. Lamu initially relied on the dispatch of tugs from Mombasa port whenever a vessel called to facilitate services such as pilotage and tugging, contributing to high operational costs and time.
“The equipping of the ports with modern maritime and yard operations equipment has always been the board’s key area of focus in line with our Strategic Plan.
This strategic thinking is geared towards boosting the government’s efforts to make Kenya, through its ports, a trading hub in the world,” KPA Chairman Gen. (Rtd) Joseph Kibwana said.
Mr Kibwana said the vessel will support equipment that had been transferred from the Port of Mombasa to handle ship and yard operations at the new port.
Mv Pate was built by Med Marine, Turkey’s leading tugboat builder, towage and pilotage operator and is part of the KPA's equipment modernisation and maintenance programme that aims to enhance efficiency at the port.
The tugboat boasts a bollard pull of 85 tons and a length overall of 29 metres is also fitted with two Caterpillar main engines making it the strongest tugboat at the KPA.
Due to her superior features, MV Pate shall be able to handle port and marine operations for all kinds and sizes of vessels for an estimated period of 20 years.
MV Pate was given a water cannon salute by a flotilla of tugs and pilot cutters depicting her maiden voyage to the port of Mombasa.
KPA has progressed plans to acquire more equipment in phases, parallel with the ongoing construction of the port and its supportive infrastructure.