Port's dredging capacity to rise with arrival of barge

Port Otago's new $1.5million barge TR Healy (left) alongside the $1.4million barge Hapuka in...
Port Otago's new $1.5million barge TR Healy (left) alongside the $1.4million barge Hapuka in Dunedin's upper harbour Steamer Basin yesterday. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Port Otago is looking to double its dredging efficiency with the purchase and delivery of a barge worth more than $1.5million, which was towed from Auckland to Dunedin this week.

Port Otago marine and infrastructure manager Sean Bolt said the second-hand TR Healy would work with the dredge Hapuka, one on either side of the relatively new bucket dredge Takutai.

With two barges, Mr Bolt said one could be filled while the other was away being emptied, which was about a five-hour round trip.

"We're looking to double efficiencies,'' he said.

The 3-year-old aluminium TR Healy is 40.2m long, 12.5m wide and weighs 85 tonnes unladen, and depending on material type, can load up to 620cum of spoil. It was built for an Auckland marina development.

Mr Bolt was still tracking down the origin of the barge's name, but believed it might have been named after a person.

The bucket dredge Takutai had been out of commission in recent weeks, with two of its hydraulic ram legs having to be rechromed in Christchurch.

Mr Bolt said new crews were being sought for the vessels and he expected all three to return to work by February.

He expected about 180,000cum to 200,000cum of spoil to be removed next year, and up to 5million cum in coming years.

Most of the vessels' work would be concentrated in the upper harbour next year, with deferred maintenance projects to deepen and widen the channels, turnaround areas and channel corners.

The additional barge brings Port Otago's fleet to 12 vessels, including three tugs, pilot vessels, dredges, barges, pile drivers and a small work boat.

Mr Bolt said there were no plans for any purchases at present, but a new tug might have to be considered in about five years, and following that, consideration for replacement of the now 34-year-old suction dredge New Era.

The latest arrival brings Port Otago's investment in vessels to about $37.5 million in the past 15 years, following its purchase of the $8 million Takutai, $1.4 million barge Hapuka, the $7 million tug Arihi in 2015-16, preceded by the $11 million tug Taiaroa in 2014 and the $8.5 million tug Otago in 2003.

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