Kenyan vessel building firm gets orders in Dar for three pilot boats

Monday April 26 2021

Completion of the three vessels by Southern Engineering Company brings the number of such boats built at Seco shipyard to eight. PHOTO | KEVIN ODIT | NMG


Kenya-based shipyard, Southern Engineering Company (Seco), reached a milestone in the construction of vessels after completing three pilot boats for Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA). This brings the number of vessels built in the yard to eight in less than a decade.

The three vessels with a length of 20 metres, depth of three metres and a draft of 1.7 metres christened Rubani 1 for Dar es Salaam Port, Rubani 2 for Tanga Port and Rubani 3 for Mtwara Port. They were designed to specification by Western Australia-based award winning naval architecture firm Southerly Designs.

Constructed in steel with an aluminium superstructure and classed by Bureau Veritas, the deckhouse will include seating for two crew members and up to 12 passengers, while accommodation for three crew members below deck.

This is second time in three years Seco is securing a tender from TPA to construct their vessels. Last year it assembled two cargo vessels with the capacity to handle 2,000 tonnes of dry cargo or 72 twenty-foot containers (Teus).

Seco Shipyard general manager Sanjiv Nair said TPA were impressed by the delivery of the two barges.

"TPA awarded Seco the second tender after delivering quality vessels last year, which met international standards. The three boats are ready on time despite disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic where Seco implemented robust measures to ensure the safety and well-being of all involved with the project; we hope other East African countries will build confidence with us since we have a well-trained team," said Mr Nair.


He added that the three boats will be powered by two MAN D2862 LE 432 engines, which will develop a total output of 882kW at 2,100rpm, coupled with ZF 2050A transmissions and Nakashima five-blade propellers, to deliver a free sailing maximum speed of 20 knots.

"A notable feature of these hulls is the twin skeg arrangement, offering outstanding protection to the running gear and facilitating the use of oversized rudders. The twin keels will provide significantly improved directional stability and roll damping," said Nair.

Completion of the three vessels brings the number of such boats built at Seco shipyard to eight, in less than a decade, after the Uganda government contracted the firm to build four vessels in 2012.

The four vessels built for Uganda include MV Albert Nile 1 which is a roll-on roll-off (RoRo) modular ferry specially designed to safely transport passengers and vehicles across Lake Albert in Uganda.

The others were three passenger ferries, MV Bisina, MV Obongi and MV Laropi, which are modular passenger ferries plying the Okokorio and Agule route, the Sinyanya channel and Umi route, respectively.

Maritime players in Kenya have been calling on the government to support investors interested in shipbuilding as part of the blue economy agenda and as a step towards locally-built vessels at the country’s ports. In April 2019, Kenya contracted Dutch firm, Damen Group, as the main project contractor of a modern shipyard facility at the Kenya Navy Mtongwe base.