Tug industry veteran honoured with new vessel naming

Tug industry veteran honoured with new vessel naming

Steve Newton has racked up some impressive years of service with EPE client Svitzer.

For 46 years, the tug industry veteran and long-time EPE client has worked in a wide range of roles with the Fremantle-based towage provider and its various predecessors.

Steve’s years of service were honoured recently when his name was immortalised on the company’s latest tug, the Svitzer Newton.

“I’d always tried to keep a low profile but that went belly-up when this happened,” he said.

“But I must admit I was pretty happy in the end because there was a lot of support from the crews to have it named after me.”

Starting as a trade assistant when the company was known as Prince Launch Service, Steve then completed an apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic and played a key role in the company’s boat building business when it was Stirling Marine.

He later spent three year’s running the company’s Hedland workshop before returning to Fremantle and moving into logistics and purchasing.

It all stemmed from a childhood love of boats and Steve says once he had salt in his veins, there was no turning back.

There have been five different incarnations of the company over Steve’s years of service, due to various acquisitions and mergers, culminating in the international backing of the Danish-based Svitzer, which operates around the world.

One thing that has been a constant through that time is EPE’s involvement.

Steve remembers when the company’s founder John Deetman would visit the Svitzer workshops to ensure they were receiving optimum service.

“When we were building boats, I got to know the right companies and EPE were one of those,” he said.

“You can go to some suppliers and ask for something and they’ll sell it to you whether it’s the best thing for the job or not, but EPE always ask questions and work with us to help us think through our decisions,” Steve said.

“It’s that extra level of advice and expertise that sorts out the really good suppliers form the not-so-good ones.”

The naming of the new vessel came about through a company poll when the latest tug was due for delivery. Steve admits he thought it was all a joke when he first heard about it, but when he received a call from the company’s national head in the Eastern States, he knew there was more to it.

“He asked me how I felt about it being named after me but the pressure was on to make a decision so the boat could be surveyed,” he said.

Once the Svitzer Newton was in service, operating from Fremantle Harbour, Steve and his wife joined the crew on board to take a car carrier ship out of port.

Steve says his wife liked it so much that they stayed on board to bring a container ship into harbour.

“I asked her how long it had been since she’d been on a tug and she said it was the first time in 37 years of marriage she’d ever been out on a work boat with me,” Steve admitted.

But not everyone will need to wait 37 years or marry the right person to get on board, as the Svitzer Newton will be open to the public as part of Fremantle’s Maritime Open Day on 27 October.

The occasion will also be used to christen the new boat, with the ceremony taking place at 10am at J Berth in Fremantle Harbour.

Steve admits he may not have another 46 years of service in him, but with salt in his veins, he’s unlikely to stray far from the ocean.