Bay dredging to allow greater loads from next week

Major dredging work on Port Phillip Bay finished within a week, Port of Melbourne says

Work on dredging Port Phillip Bay to allow bigger-capacity ships into the Port of Melbourne will be finished within a week.

The Port of Melbourne Corporation says main dredging operations are now finished and the project's principle vessel, the Queen of the Netherlands, will depart this weekend.

Corporation CEO Stephen Bradford calls it the biggest step yet towards finishing the controversial project, which has increased the maximum allowable shipping depth to 12.1m from 11.6m.

At the completion of the project later this year the channel will have 14m clearance without tidal assistance.

Bradford says more than 60 percent of container ships in the June quarter could have carried more cargo with the deeper draught.

Dredging is still ahead of schedule and budget, he says.

"This milestone marks the first significant increase in channel depth since 1996 when the 11.6m draught was declared," Bradford says.

"This new draught depth effectively marks the beginning of the port’s promise to ensure that Victoria’s major sea highway can meet our trade demands over the next 30 years."

Remaining works - including further dredging in the Yarra River - are scheduled for completion by December 31.

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