By Andrew Mwangura
KPA’s 1.7 billion shillings salvage tug boat currently under construction at the Turkish based ship builder MED MARINE is ready to be delivered and she is expected to be commissioned in October this year.
The multipurpose salvage tugboat is expected to undertake rescue marine operations during emergencies and provide rescue services, fire suppression at sea, maritime pollution control and marine salvage.
Former KPA officials owe the public answers for the suspicious disposal of the KPA owned salvage tug MT MWOKOZI.
Why was she sold at a throw away price of KES 120 million to a Dutch Salvage Company SMIT International? And why was she sold in the first place?
Could it be that she was a white elephant for KPA? Could it be that KPA did not know what to do with her?
When she came to Mombasa, KPA Pilots tried to carry out shipping operations and they found her cumbersome. Many felt the idea of buying it could also have been considered a vessel capable of doubling up as both a piloting and salvage vessel.
The Pilots avoided her until she was set aside for any arising yet salvage operations; however, she did not do any salvage operations for five years.
KPA could not cope with this type of liability. A questionable decision was reached to dispose her of.
MT MWOKOZI was purchased for the purpose of doing salvage operations along the West Indian Ocean region and the Far East in 1980s before she was sold to foreign salvage company under mysterious circumstances in 1990.
The salvage tug boat was delivered by Ferguson Ailson Ltd of Port Glasgow to Kenya Ports Authority Mombasa in 1984.
Currently she is operating in South East Asia renamed SMIT SULAWESI and she is flying Indian flag.
KPA currently has four harbor tugs including MT NYANGUMI 2, MT SIMBA 3, MT DUMA 2, MT KIBOKO2 and MT EUGINE acquired in 2018 from Hong Kong.
MT EUGENE is named after a senior Marine Pilot Capt. Eugene Sylvester Okoth who passed away in 2016.
The four harbor tugs have a number of capabilities including; towing and mooring, fire engine, salvage boat and seagoing abilities.
A salvage tug is a specialized type of tugboat which is used to rescue ships which are in distress or in danger of sinking, or to salvage ships which have already sunk or run aground.
Few tugboats have ever been truly fully dedicated to salvage work; most of the time, salvage tugs operate towing barges, platforms, ships, or performing other utility tugboat work.
Tugs fitted out for salvage are found in small quantities around the globe, with higher concentrations near areas with both heavy shipping traffic and hazardous weather conditions.
Salvage tugs are used by specialized crew experienced in salvage operations.
Their particular equipment includes extensive towing provisions and extra tow lines/cables, with provisions for towing from both bow and stern and at irregular angles, Extra cranes, firefighting gear, Deluge systems, Hoses and Nozzles.
On the other hand, its mechanical equipment includes common mechanical repair parts, Compressed air gear, and Diving equipment, Steel for hull patches, Welding equipment and Pumps.
A tugboat or towboat is a type of vessel that maneuvers other vessels by pushing or pulling them either by direct contact or by means of a tow line.
Tugs typically move vessels that either are restricted in their ability to maneuver on their own, such as ships in a crowded harbor or a narrow canal or those that cannot move by themselves, such as barges, disabled ships, log rafts, or oil platforms.
Tugboats are powerful for their size and strongly built, and some are ocean-going. Some tugboats serve as icebreakers or salvage boats.
Early tugboats had steam engines, but today most have diesel engines. Many tugboats have firefighting monitors, allowing them to assist in firefighting, especially in harbors.
Compared to seagoing tugboats, harbor tugboats are generally smaller and their width-to-length ratio is often higher, due to the need for a lower draught.
In smaller harbors these are often also termed lunch bucket boats, because they are only manned when needed and only at a minimum (captain and deckhand), thus the crew will bring their own lunch with them.
The number of tugboats in a harbor varies with the harbor infrastructure and the types of tugboats.
Things to take into consideration includes ships with/without bow thrusters and forces like wind, current and waves and types of ship (e.g. in some countries there is a requirement for certain numbers and sizes of tugboats for port operations with gas tankers).
Before purchasing for another white elephant in the name of salvage tug boat thorough investigations need to be carried out on what happened to MT MWOKOZI and why she was sold at a throw away price?