The Launceston Chamber of Commerce Board met with State Infrastructure Minister, Rene Hidding, last week to discuss several infrastructure opportunities, including the feasibility of a new Shiplift and Drydock facility for Bell Bay Port.

The Chamber Board is aware that various studies and investigations have been undertaken over the years to review the current shiplift at Kings Wharf in Launceston, to understand the limitations of the current location and its size, implications of ship size increases, and consider the current lack of facilities on Australia’s Eastern Seaboard for this type of maintenance facility.

Maree Tetlow, Executive Officer at the Launceston Chamber of Commerce, advised that “A larger Shiplift and Drydock facility at Bell Bay Port would potentially attract a new market to Northern Tasmania for marine maintenance.  It is already acknowledged by those in the marine industries that Launceston has highly developed skills in marine engineering to underpin such a facility, as well as great innovation and capability through linkages with the Australian Maritime College.”

Ms Tetlow continued with “we have called on the Minister to investigate and release the findings of a feasibility study project, and formally determine the market demand by shippers for a new facility at Bell Bay Port.  Anecdotal evidence indicates a new larger facility would be welcomed by shippers reducing their costs considerably, potentially in the millions of dollars, as they would no longer need to sail their ships up to South East Asia for this service.  There is also real opportunity for the Australian Maritime College to link with the maintenance of vessels to offer high value crew training whilst ships are in port. There have been positive indications from the Commonwealth Government around potential funding contributions if we can get some evidence of demand.”

“In addition, this project would enhance the capability and branding of Bell Bay Port and the region generally as a maritime service hub.”