The Northern Territory will build the largest ship lift in Northern Australia to cement Darwin as a major marine services industry hub and create hundreds of jobs.
A ship lift is used to bring vessels out of the water so they can be serviced, repaired or stored, including for safety during cyclones.
Engineering, design and construction contracts will be awarded in late 2020 to allow construction to begin in 2021.
Territory-owned Paspaley Group has partnered with the NT Government to deliver the $400 million project.
The ship lift is expected to bring in $260 million into the territory’s economy every year and create around 100 jobs during construction phase. It will also generate around 400 direct and indirect jobs in the ship building and repairs industry during its operation.
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Measuring in at 103 metres, the ship lift will be able to service large vessels from industries including offshore petroleum, fishing, pearling and Defence and Border Force.
The agreement between the NT Government and Paspaley will see the ship lift constructed on government owned land and operated by Paspaley under a 10-year agreement.
Paspaley owns and operates a large fleet of vessels, with many sailing in and out of Darwin. The vessels currently being maintained in Darwin will help to ensure ongoing viability of the ship lift.
The ship lift will dry dock launch vessels up to 5000 tonnes, with up to 150 vessels expected to use the lift every year. 20 hectares of hard stand area will be used for ship repair and maintenance works, with four wet berths (wharves) included in the design of the ship lift.
Darwin is the only functional deep-water harbour in Northern Australia and without the construction of this infrastructure, vessels would be required to travel a further 10 days for service.
The next steps will be the finalisation of a project development agreement between the NT Government and Paspaley and attaining all relevant environmental approvals.
Construction is expected to take around two years, with the facility potentially operational by 2023.
NT Chief Minister, Michael Gunner, said the project would position the territory’s marine industry on the national and international map.
“It is a strategic investment that will further open up the investment potential of the region, and mean more business opportunities,” Gunner said.
“Without this facility, large vessels will have to travel 10 days to be serviced in another town or another country, adding inconvenience and cost to ship operators.
“A ship lift in Darwin is good for the territory and is good for the nation.”
Paspaley CEO, James Paspaley, said the company is proud to bring its experience with the marine industry to this project.
“This local knowledge, combined with our international experience, will help us to develop and operate this facility to the international standard it deserves,” he said.
“The Paspaley Group own and maintain a large fleet of vessels, all sailing in and out of Darwin Harbour on a regular basis.
“These vessels, currently maintained in Darwin, will help ensure the ongoing viability of the ship lift, as the anchor tenant for the facility.