Island port switch nears

TASPORTS has begun adding capacity to the Port of Devonport to facilitate the end of Bass Island Line shipping’s triangular King Island service.

TasPorts’ wholly owned subsidiary, Bass Island Line (BIL) shipping, is scrapping its triangular service through Grassy, Bell Bay and Melbourne.

Instead, it is introducing a Tasmania-only run between Grassy and Devonport in the wake of falling demand and financial pressures.

Freight that needs to travel between King Island and Melbourne will now be transhipped.

Work has already begun on a $2.4 million upgrade which includes the construction of a multi-user roll-on-roll off (RORO) ramp at Devonport.

TasPorts Acting Chief Executive Officer Stephen Casey said upgraded facilities to support King Island’s freight task was a priority.

“Through consultation and feedback we know that the King Island community’s preferred Tasmanian port call is Devonport,” Mr Casey said.
“This has been reconfirmed in recent discussion with shippers, customers and the King Island Shipping Group.

“A key consideration in enabling this is a fit-for-purpose RORO ramp and we’ve been able to move quickly to identify a suitable area within the port zone to undertake such a development on the western side of the Mersey River, south of Devonport Berth 5 West.
“Following the awarding of a construction contract to local Tasmanian company BridgePro Engineering, preliminary works commenced onsite in early January.

“Along with a new RORO ramp, the project will also see the installation of two independent fender piles to provide additional berthing support and complement existing infrastructure at Berth 5 West,” Mr Casey said.

King Island Ports Advisory Board chairman Alan Carey said: “This is a great outcome and Devonport is the ideal port and a RORO ramp essential for the transfer of goods for trans-shipment.”

The RORO ramp is expected to be operational in early March.

Once completed BIL will transition its mainland Tasmanian port of call from Bell Bay to Devonport and look to cease its regular Victorian port call which has continued to see a decline in demand and is no longer operationally viable.

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