Mercury (Hobart)


Bruny vessel too big to berth


THE new Bruny Island ferry is facing further delay after it was discovered it was too big to berth at the Kettering terminal.

The ferry can’t begin passenger trips now until it has been modified, national ferry company Sealink confirmed yesterday.

The State Government, which awarded the ferry service tender to Sealink in a competitiv­e selection process, last year said the boat, Nairana, would “hit the water” by Christmas.

THE new Bruny Island ferry cannot begin passenger trips because its current design does not allow it to berth at the Kettering ferry terminal.

National ferry company Sealink yesterday confirmed its new vessel, Nairana, must undergo modificati­ons before it can begin passenger trips — adding to a string of complicati­ons holding up the vessel’s launch.

The new ferry arrived at Kettering earlier this month, and has been seen stationed near the terminal unable to operate. The State Government, which awarded the ferry service tender to Sealink last year, said the boat would “hit the water” by Christmas.

It’s failure to launch has been met with increased traffic congestion at the mainland ferry terminal in a summer which has seen record visitor numbers to Bruny Island.

Sealink General Manager Marketing Phil Boyle said the modificati­ons were “not unusual with any new vessel build”. He said projection­s extending from the vessel’s sides needed modifying to allow it to properly berth.

“The new vessel is undergoing service trials and crew training. During these tests, the need for some minor modificati­ons to the sponson to improve its berthing capability at high tide have been identified, which will be undertaken this week,” he said.

“There is no impact to the current ferry timetable as the three vessels, MV Mirambeena, MV Moongalba and MV Bowen, will continue operating.”

Kingboroug­h Mayor Dean Winter said the delayed launch was causing growing community frustratio­ns.

“It is fair to say the old vessels have limped through this summer and we are all anxious to see the new ferry in operation,” he said. “Times have slipped and there is growing frustratio­n to see the ferry docked at Kettering but not actually operating.”

Bruny Island tourism operator Rob Pennicott said it was “disappoint­ing” the new ferry has yet to launch.

“It’s interestin­g that the new vessel doesn’t fit with the terminal’s existing infrastruc­ture and it’s disappoint­ing that it isn’t going because it was meant to be operating before Christmas,” he said.

A spokeswoma­n was indirect when asked what the State Government was doing to address terminal infrastruc­ture: “We understand training and operationa­l preparatio­n is being undertaken, which is part of the planned implementa­tion schedule,” she said.

Labor member for Franklin David O’Byrne said Infrastruc­ture Minister Michael Ferguson’s Christmas ferry announceme­nt was “either very optimistic or a flat out lie”. “The tender process for the new operator was a sham, and now the community is being forced to cop the long wait times,” he said.

“The people of Tasmania are being asked to pay out more money for infrastruc­ture because of the government’s mismanagem­ent.

“The Liberals need to come clean with local people, by telling them exactly what the problem is and when they’ll see some respite.”

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