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Curtis Island worker ferries find new life interstate, overseas

Thursday 23rd March 2017

THREE 400-passenger EnviroCat catamarans that used to ferry workers between the mainland and Curtis Island's LNG plants have been given new lives interstate and overseas.

SeaLink Gladstone, at the time known as Transit Systems Marine, commissioned five of the 35m Capricornian class vessels specifically for Curtis Island after being awarded two of the three passenger ferry contracts to service the island's LNG projects in 2011.

But as construction on the plants wound down, the ferries were found to be "surplus to requirements".

SeaLink Gladstone general manager Rob Mitchell said a key consideration during the design of the vessels was how they could be used after the Curtis Island projects ended, given the relatively short contract length.

"The end design of the vessels was key to the long-term viability of these assets and has allowed for the vessels to be deployed to other operations," he said.

The catamarans are known for their eco-friendly nature, using less fuel per passenger than a small four-cylinder car and producing no water-borne emissions.

One of the catamarans, the Capricornian Dancer, began operating as a commuter ferry in Melbourne last year, taking passengers from Portarlington on the Bellarine Peninsula to the Victoria Harbour Docklands every day of the year.

A second, the Capricornian Surfer, crossed the Tasman Sea from Brisbane to Auckland last month to begin life as part of a ferry service in the traditional harbour town of Davenport.

"There's also a third one which SeaLink themselves, under the Captain Cook brand, operate in Sydney Harbour," Mr Mitchell said.

The Capricornian Dancer and Surfer have been dry-leased to their respective operations, meaning they have been supplied without staff or crew.

Meanwhile, the remaining two EnviroCats, along with eight other ferries, remain at Gladstone and continue to operate the Curtis Island route.

"The (construction) projects have finished, however we've picked up the operational projects for all three plants on the island," Mr Mitchell said.

SeaLink also holds contracts for roll-on/roll-off vehicular services with two of the plants.

"These contracts are long-term contracts, ensuring Sealink will have an ongoing presence in Gladstone for the foreseeable future," Rob Mitchell said.

Gladstone's Transit Systems Marine was acquired by SeaLink in November 2015 for $125 million.

At the time SeaLink's managing director Jeff Ellison described it as a major opportunity for the company to crystallise its growth strategy.

The acquisition helped the ASX-listed SeaLink Travel Group record a $22.3 million net profit in the 2015-2016 financial year.


https://www.gladstoneobserver....

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