The vessel, Italeni, received a muted welcome at the end of its maiden voyage from the Bulgarian port of Varna, where it was built.
Spray from a ship’s fire nozzle at the port’s entrance and a number of ship enthusiasts photographing the grab hopper dredger were the only evidence that a new vessel had entered the service of the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA).
According to a recent Transnet press release the Italeni had been designed and built to achieve low maintenance costs.
It will replace the ageing Crane – named after the bird – dredger, joining the Islandlwana grab hopper dredger.
The Italeni, named after the battle of Italeni which took place near the Ithala Mountains where the Zulu King Dingane defeated the Voortrekkers in 1838, will not begin service immediately.
The grab crane currently on the Crane will be transferred to the Italeni.
The dredger was built by Dutch ship builder IHC Merwede in the shipyard of its partner, MTG Dolphin, in Varna.
The Italeni will be used mainly for maintenance work in various ports throughout the country, especially keeping the channels clear that allow ships to enter the port.
Fully loaded, it can carry 750 cubic metres of dredged material.
The TNPA will officially unveil the Italeni on Monday where further details on the vessel will be provided.
Apart from the Islandlwana and the Italeni, IHC Merwede is building a third larger dredger for the TNPA.