Lightering Indonesian Coal

Tuesday, February 26, 2008
A tug tows a loaded coal barge down the Mahakam River past the city of Samarinda. Alan Haig-Brown/Cummins photo

Passing the town of Samarinda, just above the deltas and about 30 kilometers up river from the sea, a steady parade of tugs towing barges are moving thousands of tons of coal from several large mines further up the river. Some of these tow barge loads of coal to neighboring Southeast Asian nations while others take to coal barges out of the river and alongside deep-sea vessels for transport to more distant markets.

Mr. Johnny Tanair of Surabya has recently taken delivery of a new boat, the Tanair IX, which will join other tugs that he already has on lease to companies moving coal out of the river to be lightered aboard deep-sea ships. With over 80 kilometers of navigable river above Samarinda, a boat building industry developed in Samarinda to meet the needs of the logging companies. Now, with a declining forest industry, a large part of new construction is related to the coal industry.

The MV Tanair IX is 39.5x8.6 meters. The stalwart tug is powered by a pair of1200 hp V-12 Cummins KTA 38 engines turning 1.98-meter propellers in 2-meter nozzles through Twin Disc MG5321DC gears with 6.39:1 gears. As with the tug Syarasd I, Mr. Suwandi built the Tanair IX, under contract using owner-supplied materials.

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