Royal IHC launched the 5,500 m³ trailing suction hopper dredger (TSHD) Ilembe at its Kinderdijk yard in the Netherlands on 9 May for South Africa’s Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA).
The launch and naming ceremony was performed by TNPA corporate affairs general manager, Lunga Ngcobo, and when Ilembe is delivered to its homeport of Durban in early 2016 it will be the largest TSHD operating in South Africa.
IHC won the contract for the design, construction, and delivery of the vessel via an open-tender process in March 2014. Ilembe will join TNPA’s existing fleet of IHC-built vessels, which includes the 4,200 m3 TSHD Isandlwana delivered in 2010 and the grab hopper dredger Italeni that was delivered last year.
Ilembe will replace the TSHD Ingwenya, which IHC built and delivered to TNPA in the early 1980s, and will mainly carry out maintenance work in South Africa’s international seaports, though it may also be deployed elsewhere on the continent.
The new vessel is 101.5 m long, 22.4 m wide, and has a draught of 6 m. Its 900 mm-diameter single suction pipe installed on the port side can dredge to 30 m and the vessel has 7,660 kW total installed power, a trial speed of 11.9 kt, and will carry a complement of 26 people.
Speaking to IHS Maritime, an IHC spokeswoman declined to reveal the value of the contract, but confirmed that Ilembe has been designed to be highly versatile.
“Material dredged into the hopper can be offloaded through Ilembe’s 13 conical bottom valves or pumped ashore by using a floating pipeline, a side discharge mechanism, or by rainbowing [spraying via a bow nozzle],” she said. “The vessel has a single-walled IHC high-efficiency dredge pump and Caterpillar main engines.”
The name Ilembe is a South African title for a hero, mainly associated with King Shaka Zulu. Ilembe municipality, north of Durban, has a rich historical connection to the Zulu tribe, and King Shaka’s tomb is located in the district town of KwaDukuza.
As part of the contract, IHC will execute a supplier development plan in order to help improve industry in South Africa and train locals. The plan’s main focus is the development of a dredging school that will include delivery of a simulator.
“We value the long history of co-operation between TNPA and our company,” said IHC shipbuilding executive director Fer Tummers at the launch. “TNPA required a highly reliable dredger, resulting in low-maintenance requirements, an excellent dredging performance, high workability, and high levels of safety.”
TNPA manages eight commercial ports along South Africa’s 2,954 km coastline in a landlord capacity – Richards Bay, Durban, East London, Ngqura, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay, Cape Town, and Saldanha Bay. It has two main service categories: provision of port infrastructure and provision of maritime services such as dredging, aids to navigation, ship repairs, and marine operations.