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State-of-the-art tug arrives in Esperance to boost port operations with three generations of Mackenzie Marine and Towage family on board 

A new Sanmar-built tug has arrived in Esperance, Australia, with the Lillian Mac joining the Mackenzie Marine and Towage fleet to bolster operations in the port.  

The family-run Mackenzie Marine and Towage holds the contract to operate tug services in Esperance and the new $10 million vessel joins three other tugs in the company’s fleet – Hellfire Bay, Shoal Cape and Cape Pasley.  

The Lillian Mac arrived in Esperance after a four-day voyage from Henderson, with one stopover in Bunbury, and three generations of the Mackenzie family were on board for the journey. 

Managing Director Sean Mackenzie was joined on the voyage by his father Hugh and daughter Brooke, who is a tug master with the company.  

He said the arrival of the Lillian Mac in Esperance was a vital part of the company’s plan to provide an even higher level of productive and efficient operations in the major port which services the West Australian Goldfields region.  

“In simplified terms, this new tug is really powerful with a free running speed of 12 knots. It delivers on being able to handle the biggest ships along with providing better environmental outcomes which we’ve always been keen to achieve,” Sean Mackenzie said. 

“We’re committed to investing in innovation and taking a forward-looking approach to technologies to drive this business,” he said. “This has been at the heart of our plans since this company began as the first and only tug operator in Esperance 50 years ago.”  

Photo: Paul Mulholland

To mark that half century milestone, the vessel was named the Lillian Mac in honour of Sean Mackenzie’s late grandmother who was also a company founder.

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. 

“In our 50 years of operation we have never been asked to upgrade or replace any of our vessels. This is because we always consult with the port and its pilots on how we can continue to provide the best possible tugs to ensure a service that is of the highest standards.”  

The Lillian Mac was built in Istanbul, Turkey, at the Sanmar Shipyards to a Robert Allan design – Canadian naval architects – 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. 

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.  

At 24 by 12 metres, the Lillian Mac is driven by twin Caterpiller V16 engines, has firefighting capabilities of 1200 cubic metres per hour and has accommodation for six people. 

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. 

“There’s always a risk of a marine pollution disaster on our beautiful coast line and the Lillian Mac’s capabilities will greatly reduce this. This was an important consideration when we commissioned her as this is all part of our commitment to the community and the environment.” 

In January, Mackenzie Marine and Towage deployed one of its tugs from Esperance to Albany when a bulk carrier became stranded off WA’s south-west coast for over two weeks after a fire ripped through the engine room, leaving the Interlink Sagacity dead in the water. 

Mackenzie Marine and Towage is a family-owned company that was founded by the late Don and Lillian Mackenzie in 1972. 

They started the business with just Don’s fishing boat and a newly commissioned tug 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 now-retired Hugh Mackenzie said the four-day journey from Henderson, near Perth in Western Australia, to Esperance was now one of his most cherished memories. 

“I’ve done many ocean voyages in the past but this one was definitely special,” Hugh Mackenzie said. 

“To be able to share this experience with my son and my granddaughter is something I’ll never forget and even though it was a tough journey, we all have memories together of this special moment,” he said. 

The official naming ceremony for the Lillian Mac will take place on April 21, 2023, in Esperance.