Shin­ing a light on port nav­i­ga­tion a busi­ness pri­or­ity

Townsville Bulletin - - Investor -

A MULTI-mil­lion dol­lar con­tract to re­store vi­tal nav­i­ga­tion aids for the Port of T o w n s v i l l e h a s b e e n awarded to Townsville-based marine con­trac­tor Pa­cific Marine Group and could take about eight weeks to com­plete.

Sev­eral bea­cons and nav­i­ga­tion aids in the Platy­pus and Sea chan­nels lead­ing into the port were dam­aged or lost dur­ing Cy­clone Yasi on Fe­bru­ary 2-3, clos­ing the port to deep draft bulk car­ri­ers at night.

While most port users have been able to adapt to the changed con­di­tions, the Yab­ulu nickel re­fin­ery, which re­lies on mil­lions of tonnes of im­ported nickel ore as a feed­stock for the plant, has had its sup­ply lines dis­rupted and faced costly ship berthing charges and pro­duc­tion shut­downs if the lights were not switched back on quickly.

There were fears rec­ti­fi­ca­tion works could take as long as nine months, cost­ing the re­fin­ery $ 25 mil­lion.

Marine In­fra­struc­ture Mini s t e r Cr a i g Wal l a c e a n - nounced the con­tract this week, say­ing it was fur­ther proof of the Bligh Gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to post cy­clone re­cov­ery.

‘‘ Townsville is one of the state’s key trad­ing ports and will play a ma­jor role in Queens­land’s fi­nan­cial re­cov­ery,’’ Mr Wal­lace said.

He said the con­tract would be used in the con­struc­tion of high-pre­ci­sion off-shore nav­i­ga­tion lights to lead ships to the port’s main sea chan­nel.

‘‘ Mar­itime Safety Queensl a n d o f f i c e r s w o r k e d tire­lessly un­der ex­treme con­di­tions to re­store tem­po­rary nav­i­ga­tion aids to the Port of Townsville and help re­open the port to ship­ping just days a f t e r t h e c y c l o n e h a d passed,’’ he said.

‘‘ Un­til the lead lights are up deep draft bulk car­ri­ers will not be able to safely en­ter the port at night.

‘‘ Get­ting these lights right will be no easy task but we’re con­fi­dent we’ve got the right team. It’s ex­pected the pro­ject may take around eight weeks or so.’’

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