A sunny winter’s day and a striking water salute combined to give Port Taranaki’s new tug Kīnaki a memorable welcome home today.
The Kīnaki rounded the Main Breakwater on schedule at 11am and was greeted by her sister tugs Rupe and Tuakana, who provided the traditional greeting as they escorted her in.
The still, bright conditions made for a fantastic visual spectacle for the more than 100 onlookers perched along the end of the Lee Breakwater.
And tugmaster Mark Bamford, who led a six-strong Port Taranaki marine team that crewed Kīnaki from Lyttelton Port, didn’t disappoint, pulling out a few spins and twirls as he brought the tug within the breakwaters.
“We wanted to give the people watching a bit of a show,” he laughed. “Being a modern vessel she is very powerful and a lot more responsive, so she can go sideways very quickly.
“It was nice to have a great welcome home. Most of the guys had family on the breakwater too, which made it special.”
Kīnaki left Lyttelton Port at 3am on Monday and enjoyed a relatively smooth trip up the east coast of the South Island, through Cook Strait, and along the North Island west coast.
“We had a wind change that gave us a southerly all the way up, which kept us to time,” Mr Bamford said. “There was a bit of swell from the west, this side of the strait, but otherwise it was a pretty comfortable trip.
“We were very pleased with how she handled. The principles of driving the tug are the same, but the modern equipment means she has greater power and better handling. It’s terrific and very exciting times to have a state-of-the-art vessel as part of our fleet.”
Port Taranaki chief executive Guy Roper said it was great to see the vessel in Taranaki waters and Kīnaki was expected to be in service in the next week or two.
“There will be some familiarisation for the tug masters and crew before she gets into service – getting up to speed with the tug’s features, equipment and increased power,” he said.
“It’s fantastic she’s here. It’s been a process of more than three years specifying our needs, commissioning, designing, building and launching Kīnaki, so we’re looking forward to having her working as a modern addition to our fleet. “I must pay tribute to the many hours of dedication by the port’s marine team in delivering a vessel of such high quality, and they can rightfully be proud of Kīnaki”.
Kīnaki is a 25m in-harbour tractor tug, which has the propellers at the front allowing for better handling in the rugged West Coast conditions. She was built by experienced tug builders Sanmar Shipyards, of Turkey, and is based on a design by leading tug designer Robert Allan, of Canada. Among her state-of-the art features are Caterpillar engines, Rolls-Royce propellers and an electric towing winch by DMT.
She has a bollard pull in excess of 60 tonnes, which is now the industry norm as vessels get larger. She replaces the 47-year-old Kupe, the oldest of Port Taranaki’s tugs, which has a bollard pull of just 28 tonnes.
Kīnaki was completed early this year and, after sea trials in Turkey, was loaded onto the heavy lift vessel MV Fairpartner at the end of March for her long trip to New Zealand. Kīnaki arrived at Lyttelton last month and then completed final commissioning checks before her voyage north.
An official naming and blessing ceremony with Ngāti Te Whiti hapu, who were involved in the naming process, will be held at a later date.