Latest ferry bound for Sydney Harbour sea trials on Clarence

THE LATEST ferry off the slipways at Harwood Marine has been seen plying the waters of the Clarence River over the past week.

Last week the Clarence Valley-based company launched the White Bay, one of two 12m Sydney Harbour Ferries the company has built under contract to Sealink.

Harwood Marine managing director Ross Roberts said Sealink was Australia's largest fleet owner of small vessels and had been a client of Harwood Marine for many years.

"The vessels are 60 passenger capacity and have a specific design to generate low wash and economic operations," Mr Roberts said.

"Harwood Marine was chosen as the shipbuilder due to their expertise in aluminium ship construction, after building two 23m marine grade aluminium research vessels for the Philippines Government in 2014."


TOne of two hydrographic vessels built by Harwood Marine for the Philippines Government in 2014.
One of two hydrographic vessels built by Harwood Marine for the Philippines Government in 2014.

Mr Roberts said his company needed to expand its infrastructure at its site on Harwood Island.

"Recently we were requested to answer an expression of interest, for the building of a number of larger ferries, that would require a larger construction shed on our existing shipyard site," he said.

"Bbut delays in approvals for the construction of this shed has already meant two of these vessels are now be constructed in Tasmania.

"There are still 4 more large vessels that can be built, as well as new enquiries, if common sense prevails, and we are allowed build the necessary infrastructure to secure these local jobs."

Mr Robers said red tape and sluggish response from regulators had limited opportunities for the company.

"In July 2017 Harwood Marine were also offered a 10 year contract for the maintenance and repair of the East Coast tugboat fleet to commence in August 2018," he said.

"This required a small amount of dredging where the river had silted up on the corner at Goodwood Island, due the drought and low water flows, yet despite many meetings with various levels of government and requests for assistance to secure this long term contract, the dredging was never done and now the vessels are being serviced in Queensland."

He said Harwood Marine was a strong employer of young people seeking to stay in the Clarence Valley.

"It is very disappointing in a region like the Clarence Valley with the highest youth unemployment in the state, that we are continually watching job opportunities in our marine industry move to other states," he said.

"Those areas display a strong community support for local shipyards, due to the economic value they inject into the region and the job opportunities for young people.

"Harwood Marine have been in operation for nearly 50 years and is a very important part of the Port of Yamba's history."

He said the company employed about 60 highly trained and skilled employees working at the shipyard, experts in both steel and aluminium construction, who can pass on their very valuable knowledge in many different trades locally to local youth, if given the opportunity.