The new tug, yet to be named, is due to be delivered in April 2019. Photo: Supplied.

Port Nelson spend $29 million to fish in larger vessels

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Port Nelson is preparing to spend $29 million over the next 18 months on the redevelopment of the Main Wharf North berth, and purchase a new harbour tug, which will allow them to service larger vessels.

Port Nelson, which is jointly owned by Nelson City Council and Tasman District Council, announced the capital expenditure.

Chairman Phil Lough says it is a significant endorsement of the health of the region’s economy and will help ensure Port Nelson can meet the demands of larger vessels calling at the Port, as well as improving earthquake resilience for the region.

“This Main Wharf North project will complete a rebuild programme that commenced in 1998 with the building of a 120-metre length of Main Wharf South, to which a further 60 metres was added in 2008.”

A further 100 metres of wharf, the majority of which is almost 100 years old, will be rebuilt to a strength of 100 tonnes axle load which will then give Port Nelson a full, heavy-duty berth of 280 metres in length.

This will ensure the company is able to meet the demands of visits by larger container and cruise vessels for the foreseeable future.

It will also mean, based on work undertaken as part of an ongoing resilience planning project, that Port Nelson will have a berth capable of standing up to damage that could occur as the result of a major earthquake, allowing the importation of emergency supplies and fuel, critical in times of emergency, to continue.

Planning work on the wharf development is likely to commence in early 2019, with contractors likely to be on site around July to commence groundworks and the project due for completion in mid-2020.

The purchase of the new, still to be named, Damen 2411 tug follows on from the purchase of the 52-tonne bollard pull tug Toia, which arrived in Nelson in September 2016.

“This increased tug capacity of 70 tonnes bollard pull will give us the necessary power to berth larger ships than we can currently handle, as well as the ability to extend berthing and sailing windows for vessels currently using the Port”, says Phil.

In recent years the size of container vessels servicing the Port has risen significantly and this trend is likely to continue over the next two years.

The increased towage power should also assist Port Nelson and the Nelson / Tasman area in securing additional visits of larger cruise vessels that have not called into the region up until this point.

The Vietnamese built tug is currently undergoing final fitting work. This aims to be completed in time for an April 2019 delivery to Nelson.