SeaRoad inks deal on new freight ship for 2023

Bass Strait operator signs off on huge €100 million vessel

SeaRoad inks deal on new freight ship for 2023
Chas Kelly


Tasmanian-based transport company SeaRoad has placed an order for the largest freight ship in the company’s history.

It has finalised an agreement with German shipbuilding yard Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft (FSG) to construct the new roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) vessel, using LNG propulsion, worth more than €100 million (A$162 million).

The new freight vessel, as yet unnamed, will join Searoad Mersey II and replace charter vessel MV Liekut to operate on Bass Strait between Melbourne and Devonport, scheduled for the last quarter of 2023.

Construction on the 210-metre-long vessel will start in late 2021.

The ship will feature the latest technology, including LNG power, and have a capacity of 4,227 lane metres and capability to transport heavy cargo with a unit weight of up to 100 tonnes.


SeaRoad executive chairman Chas Kelly said the company is continuously evolving to be the premium freight provider across Bass Strait.

"We’re constantly looking for ways to enhance our logistics solutions for customers and with our investment in this new vessel, the team at SeaRoad is confident in the future of transport between Tasmania and the mainland," Kelly said.

"At over 40,000 tonnes gross, this will be the largest freight vessel in SeaRoad’s history, continuing to grow our capacity, and providing more options for local agriculture, aquaculture and manufacturing industries.

"We’ve been very pleased with how our two current FSG-built vessels have performed from both an efficiency and operational perspective.

"We look forward to continuing our successful relationship with the German shipyard and their experienced staff."

FSG CEO Philipp Maracke said the company was proud to have brought the business to Flensburg.

"This order by a long-standing customer equals an important vote of confidence in both this new model, as well as our established expertise as an innovative German newbuilding yard," he said.

"Our aim is to combine superior quality and superior life-cycle value.

"With this new vessel, FSG and SeaRoad will make an important contribution to sustainable shipping."

How SeaRoad put the Liekut on Bass Strait duties, here

SeaRoad has invested heavily in infrastructure and equipment in both Devonport and Port Melbourne over the past 18 months, Kelly said.

"We’ve invested more than $5 million in equipment to complement terminal activities, purchasing new heavy forklifts, terminal tractors, A-double trailer sets, side loaders, related prime movers and our fleet of rigid trucks," he added.

"We have also begun a $6 million investment in new technology to streamline and automate our systems and processes.

"Meanwhile, TasPorts’ East Devonport Port Master Plan will provide the space required for our new vessel."

The new-build agreement took a year to negotiate, with border restrictions requiring SeaRoad and FSG to sign the contract 16,000km apart during a video call, the companies noted.

FSG built the Searoad Mersey II, which joined the fleet in 2016, and constructed MV Liekut, which joined SeaRoad under a three-year charter agreement in April 2021.

The announcement gained kudos from Tasmanian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Michael Ferguson.

"SeaRoad’s commitment to build a €100 million freight vessel for the Bass Strait route is a huge vote of confidence in our State’s economic future," he said.

"I congratulate SeaRoad executive chairman Chas Kelly and the SeaRoad team for their extraordinary commitment to increasing capacity for our growing sea trade and for the long-term investment in the port of Devonport.

"The significance of this investment decision cannot be understated.

"The new vessel will be larger and faster than the charter vessel MV Liekut – which in itself was a dramatic uplift in freight capacity for the business.

"The SeaRoad investment decision is a demonstration that Tasmanian-based companies can compete in the national freight market and our state is a major beneficiary in terms of jobs and capital investment.

"The boost to freight capacity will support Tasmania’s growing economy and population, with growing demand for efficient roll-on, roll-off delivery, which is predicted to continue to increase because of a stronger economy and population growth.

"The SeaRoad investment highlights the strength of the business case for TasPorts’ East Devonport Port Master Plan, which will lift the capacity and efficiency of the port.

"The $240 million project will provide a 40 per cent increase to overall capacity at the port, which will deliver an additional $36 million into the Tasmanian economy through increased trade."


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