Business

Number of working vessels has dropped by more than 90%

The 16m tug boat Peter Cookson is trying to sell out of Gladstone Harbour.
The 16m tug boat Peter Cookson is trying to sell out of Gladstone Harbour.

IT'S smooth sailing in Gladstone Harbour these days as the number of working vessels has dropped by more than 90%.

During the construction boom there were more than 250 commercial vessels motoring through the water each day, from tug boats, ferries and taxi.

That number has now dropped to about 20 and ship owners are trying to offload their unused vessels.

AB Marine Services owner Adam Balkin is looking at reducing his fleet by five or six boats.

He has only recently bought Curtis Ferry Services and is now focusing on improving and growing that business.

"Once dredging finished and the wharves were completed, a lot of the tugs, crew boats and crane barges left," he said. "There is no waterside construction going on at the moment. There are no other activities going on other than transporting of goods and passengers."

Other commercial vessels have left Gladstone completely, like Riverside Ferries.

Riverside Ferries finished its contract with QCLNG on December 21.

Nick Cheong was the accountant for Riverside Ferries in Gladstone and said at the peak of the construction boom it was transporting 400 people every trip to Curtis Island and 1000 people a day just with their two largest ferries.

Riverside had five ferries and one emergency response vessel.

"We have mobilised them to other parts of Australia," Mr Cheong said.

For other operators like Mr Balkin, it's a better option to try and sell the vessels through a broker.

SeaBoats broker Peter Cookson is trying to sell a tug boat in Gladstone Harbour. SeaBoats sell and charter vessels from Australia, Chile, Indonesia, Great Britain, New Zealand, Panama, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and the United States.

But Mr Cookson said despite his wideranging customers it wasn't a good time to be selling vessels.

"With the offshore industry and mining industry fairly depressed at the moment there is a lot of equipment for sale which is taking a long time to sell," he said.

"If you went back 3-4 years, if there was a tug for sale in Gladstone they would snap it up very quickly."

But, he said, there were some vessels that were still popular.

"LNG tankers and commercial carriers and still moving. Those kinds of specialised vessels are going," he said.

"But for all of the other vessels it is very much a situation where if you're a buyer you can get a bargain. If you are selling you are going to have to wait."

Topics:  gladstone, gladstone industry, harbour



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