The Western Australian Government yesterday announced a $250 million plan to deepen Fremantle Port’s Inner Harbour to cater for larger ships.
The State’s Transport Minister Simon O’Brien said the deepening would allow bigger ships to access the port at full cargo capacity.
“There has been a huge increase in the average size of container ships visiting Fremantle over the past 15 years,” he said.
“Some of the bigger ships, like the 65,000 gross tonne G Class and post-Panamax vessels, are currently unable to come in fully laden.
“Fremantle Port handles almost all of WA’s container trade and is critically important to the State’s economic well being.
“The port’s container trade, although impacted by the world economic downturn, has grown by an average of about 9.5% annually since the early 1990s.”
According to O’Brien, Fremantle Port accommodated 1,830 ships and handled 26.6 million mass tonnes of cargo in 2008-09.
The value of trade through the port was almost $26 billion.
“The deepening of the Inner Harbour will take the maximum draft capability from 12.8 m to 14 m,” he said.
“Failure to deepen would make Fremantle the shallowest container port in the country, so the larger ships would inevitably bypass it.
“We cannot afford to let that happen.”
The project also includes the reconstruction of Berth 10 on the Harbour’s North Quay, which is already underway.
This work will create an additional 180 m of quay length for container shipping.
The other North Quay container berths will also be strengthened and a seawall will be built at Rous Head to contain dredged material from the harbour.