New Safe Shipping and Rapid Response Contracts for Seas off FNQ

Media Release


05 February 2014

Two new contracts entered into by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) will help ensure safe shipping around the Australian coast and a swift response to any maritime environmental emergency in Far North Queensland's sensitive sea areas.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said the substantial contracts will provide a Cairns-based emergency towage vessel for Far North Queensland and maintenance to AMSA's national Aids to Navigation network for the next decade.

“These contracts are vital in the government's efforts to provide safe shipping through our pristine marine areas, including the Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Truss said.

The new arrangements will see the existing vessel Pacific Responder replaced in July with a new vessel. Pacific Responder was commissioned in 2006 by Mr Truss as Transport Minister in the Howard Government.

Pacific Responder has answered numerous maritime emergencies, including the grounding of the Shen Neng 1 in 2010 south of the Douglas Shoal, the towing of Ocean Emperor, which posed a risk of significant pollution in 2010 and the towing of the ID Integrity in 2012 after it experienced a main engine failure in the Coral Sea.

An open tender process that commenced in April and concluded today attracted numerous responses of a very high standard. Both contracts have been awarded to Australian Maritime Systems Limited (AMS).

“The emergency towage contract provides AMSA with a dedicated vessel and crew to provide emergency towage and first-strike emergency response in the Torres Strait, the northern Great Barrier Reef and within the Coral Sea,” Mr Truss said.

AMSA manages a network of 492 navigation aids at 381 sites around Australia, assisting mariners to navigate through dangerous passages safely and efficiently and protecting our marine environment.

“This maintenance contract will contribute to AMSA's ongoing capability to ensure thousands of vessels visiting Australian ports each year can safely navigate their way through our pristine waters,” Mr Truss said.

Both contracts are for a 10-year period, comprising aids to navigation maintenance services and emergency towage capability services.