Dredging up division
THE commanders of the USNS ships Charles E. Byrd and Charles Drew who are said to be “uncomfortable” about berthing at the Port of Townsville must be cut from different cloth from their forebears.
Their 210m long Lewis and Clarke- class supply ships, fitted with bow thrusters and assisted by tugs, are babies compared with some of the regular port users.
For instance our oft- seen HMAS Canberra and Adelaide ( 230m) are in and out in a flash ( if their engines are functioning properly, ahem!) and the mighty USS Boxer ( 257m) docked here for a high time in 2005 with no mention of channel safety issues.
It makes me wonder whether the managers of the port are cynically misusing a contrived situation to create a false sense of inadequacy in the port at a critical moment in the development approval process?
Remember, the port expansion project requires years of destructive dredging and reclamation ( i. e. long term turbidity and sedimentation of World Heritage Cleveland Bay) but also thousands of truck journeys through the streets of Townsville bringing upwards of one million tonnes of rock for breakwaters and revetment walls for 150ha of reclaim.
And at the end of it, a 14 per cent increase in maintenance dredging, all of which will be sea- dumped in Cleveland Bay next to Magnetic Island and the GBR Marine Park. After back- to- back bleaching events and a 50 per cent decline in coral cover on the GBR, I wonder if our caring and cour- teous American allies have any idea how inconvenient and unsustainable their claimed ( or labelled) discomfort really is? H. O. McCOLL,