New King Island shipping service launched officially.


The John Duigan begins regular calls in triangular loop

New King Island shipping service launched officially.
The John Duigan at work

 

After years of slow-burn drama and crisis, permanent freight calls at King Island in Bass Strait are underway again.

The $10 million John Duigan, operated by Tasmanian Ports Corporation (TasPorts) subsidiary Bass Island Line (BIL), at present runs a weekly triangular service stopping at Grassy, Bell Bay and Geelong.

"King Island’s new ship, the John Duigan, will be a vital link for farmers and the wider community," state primary industries minister Sarah Courtney commented on posting an image of the ship on facebook. 

"Well done to the efforts of many to see this vessel commissioned!"

The Malaysia-built Vitawani Shipbuilding open-deck ro-ro ship with a bow ramp takes over from the Investigator II and a number of other vessels, including the Searoad Mersey.

"Importantly the vessel has a V-shaped hull and is significantly longer, heavier and wider than previous Investigator II which is expected to ensure substantially better sea-handling in Bass Strait," Courtney says.

Compared with the Investigator II, BIL says the news landing-craft-type ship has:

  • 83 per cent increased deck space
  • 12 per cent  increase in weight capacity
  • 90 per cent increase in container capacity
  • 20 per cent increase in running speed (from 10 knots to 12 knots).

"The vessel will be able to carry 20 x 12.2 metre livestock trailers per sailing," BIL says.

"This is a significant increase on the Investigator II which can handle 8 x 12.2 metre livestock trailers.

"BIL will provide protected stow for vehicles on John Duigan."

Importantly the vessel has a V-shaped hull and is significantly longer, heavier and wider than previous Investigator II which is expected to ensure substantially better sea-handling in Bass Strait.

Today’s launch of the John Duigan is a testament to the efforts of the many island residents and Council working with the State Government to achieve a significant step forward in terms of cargo quantity, security of service and flexibility to carry the wide range of goods required by King Islanders.

Earlier this month, infrastructure minister Jeremy Rockliff explained the nature of the ship’s calls.

"While BIL has chosen Bell Bay as the mainland Tasmanian port for service start-up, it is the intention for Burnie to be the dedicated port for the service in the medium term once the right infrastructure is in place," Rockliff says.

"The livestock port for the John Duigan will be Devonport until Burnie is made ready, with Stanley being used for the next few weeks."

Both King Island and Flinders Island have been plagued for years by ad hoc solutions to their freight needs, with tenders coming up short or ships involved being shifted, while BIL’s Investigator II was criticised for being not fit for purpose.

 

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