The new ferries will be able to be upgraded to carry more vehicles when needed. (Supplied: SeaLink)
The company that last month took over the licence to operate the ferry service to Bruny Island has announced they will build two new vessels in Tasmania.
SeaLink said the first new vessel would be built at Richardson Devine Marine (RDM) at their yards in Goodwood, Hobart, and was expected to go into service in December 2019.
A second new vessel is planned for launch in 2021.
SeaLink general manager Paul Victory said both single-deck vessels could have an extra storey added to cope with future demand.
“Both vessels will have growth potential, so both vessels will have ramp infrastructure … that we can add onto as the market grows on Bruny Island,” he said.
A vessel under construction at the Richardson Devine Marine shipbuilding facility in Hobart. (Facebook: Richardson Devine Marine)
Until then the company will continue to operate a 44-year-old ferry, the MV Moongalba, that was brought down from Stradbroke Island in September, and a ferry taken over from the old service, the Mirambeena.
Today, SeaLink also announced it would immediately be adding a third ferry to the service — the MV Bowen — which had been supplanted by the Moongalba.
“SeaLink have purchased the MV Bowen, which will be brought into service on the Bruny Island run from this Wednesday,” said Mr Victory.
The company seemed to reject suggestions the purchase of the Bowen highlighted a failure in the Government’s tender process to plan for peak demand, while acknowledging the Bowen purchase was not part of the original tender.
“Our plan was to operate two vessels, plus to build two new vessels,” Mr Victory said.
“It [the Bowen purchase] just advances our capacity issues more quickly and fills a need right now.”
Mr Victory said the Bowen would run “mornings and afternoons in peak times”.
Ship build creating 10 new jobs
The new vessels will be constructed from aluminium and will see up to 10 new workers employed in the Hobart shipyard where the ferries will be built by RDM.
“It’s not only [good] for us and our workers, it gives us great confidence moving forward, but it also gives our great umbrella of suppliers and contractors further turnover to keep the whole industry moving,” chief executive Toby Richardson said.
The vessels will be powered by direct drive diesel, and the lightweight aluminium construction provides 30 per cent less resistance, according to Mr Richardson.
The second promised vessel is still on the drawing board but will also be built by RDM and is due to be completed in March 2021.