Lillian Mac Naming Ceremony Esperance

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A big welcome for Esperance Port’s new $10m tug which officially joins the Mackenzie family business  

A new state of the art tug has been named in Esperance as part of a ceremony involving three generations of a family which has been running towage operations in the port for the past 50 years. 

The family-run Mackenzie Marine and Towage holds the contract to operate tug services in Esperance and the new A$10 million vessel was christened and named by two of the family matriarchs, Margaret Howells and Kathy Bradley.  

They poured champagne over the bow of the Lillian Mac as part of the event which hosted 30 people on the new tug out in Esperance Bay.

The Lillian Mac is named in honour of the company’s co-founder, the late Lillian Mackenzie who started the business with husband Don in 1972.

“As the oldest child of Lillian and Don Mackenzie, I know for a fact that she would have been thrilled to know the family company had named a tug after her,” Mrs Howells said.

“This is such an honour for Kathy and myself to be given this opportunity to name the Lillian Mac. Mum and Dad would have been so proud and happy,” she said.

The current managing director of Mackenzie Marine and Towage, Sean Mackenzie, is Lillian’s grandson and said the naming ceremony was one of the most important moments in the company, and family, history.

“We began as the first, and only, tug operator in Esperance 50 years ago so it was only fitting that my two Aunties performed the official honours and they added a touch of elegance to the event,” said Sean Mackenzie. 

“They’ve been a part of the company’s history and the regional community, and everyone on board has made a contribution to the Goldfields region,” he said. 

The Lillian Mac officially joined the three other tugs in the company’s fleet – Hellfire Bay, Shoal Cape and Cape Pasley. The Lillian Mac arrived in Esperance in March and was immediately deployed to operations as the other tugs were dry docked for regular maintenance. 

“It’s taken us a few weeks to get her ready for this ceremony and already we’ve been able to see firsthand what the Lillian Mac is capable of,” said Sean Mackenzie. 

“This is a state-of-the-art tug which can easily handle the biggest ships, while providing better environmental outcomes,” Mr Mackenzie said. 

“The end result is that she’s already proved capable of providing a huge boost to operations in this important port which services the WA Goldfields region.” 

Mackenzie Marine and Towage is one of Western Australia’s most enduring family businesses with Sean’s daughter Brooke now working as a tug master in Esperance to become the fourth generation Mackenzie in the dynasty.

Mackenzie Marine and Towage was founded in 1972 with just Don’s fishing boat and a newly commissioned tug, named the Water Lilly after Lillian, to carry out operations in the port. The family business has held the Esperance tug operation licence since then.  

Don and Lillian Mackenzie began the dynasty and passed the business onto their sons, Hugh and Fud. Hugh’s son, Sean, is now the Managing Director and his daughter Brooke is advancing through the business and she hopes to eventually lead the company started by her great grandfather. 

The company, and the family, have been involved in supporting community groups and sporting teams for more than five decades. One of Esperance’s most popular tourist attractions was named the Don Mackenzie Waterfront Gardens in honour of their contribution to the region. 

The Lillian Mac is crewed by six people and is 24 by 12 metres. She is driven by twin Caterpiller V16 engines, has firefighting capabilities of 1200 cubic metres per hour and has accommodation for all six crew. 

The new generation, environmentally friendly tug is also designed for emergency response towing with state-of-the-art gear to rescue ships and bring them to a safe anchorage. 

She was built near Istanbul, Turkey, at the Sanmar Shipyards to a Robert Allan design and is the first Mark II version of the new RAmparts 2400SX series of tugs.

The new class of tug is designed to achieve an improved level of low emission, low environmental impact tugboat operation while maintaining high performance. 

The vessel conforms with International Maritime Organisation Tier III emission standards which are an international set of standards designed to improve air quality and protect public health by controlling emissions from ships.