Pontoons arrive as new tug base work reaches milestone
A NEW tug base development that will increase trade at Gladstone port has reached a milestone with the arrival of three pontoons.
The pontoons for the Tug Base project, which began in mid-2012 with the dredging of 250,000 cubic metres of material, arrived into Gladstone harbour on board the BBC Aquamarine and were unloaded at Auckland Point Wharf.
The new facility will be located behind the RG Tanna Coal Terminal for easy access from land and water, access to services, future expandability, security and a central location.
GPC project engineer Lee Warren said the arrival of the pontoons signalled the next phase in construction of the new facilities.
"One by one, we are floating the pontoons to the Tug Base site and once there they will be connected to the support pylons," he said.
"Two pontoons will be swing moored at Quoin Island until they are ready to be moved to site.
"We anticipate that the first pontoon will be made available to the tug operators SMIT by mid-May."
He said the balance of the pontoons and land-based facilities would be progressively completed over the coming months.
The tug base will replace the existing tug berths located at Auckland Point and will accommodate 12 vessels.
The expanded tug fleet will also accommodate the requirements of the LNG trade.
Mr Warren had previously said the existing tug base would require a significant upgrade to accommodate the new tugs and with the potential for further wharf development it was not practical for the base to remain in its present location.
"The selected design allows for each pontoon to berth four tugs," he said.
"The pontoons are designed to support the tugs under extreme day-to-day conditions and also are designed for cyclone loads."
He said the tugs would go to safe anchorages if the port is closed for a cyclone.
The decision process had included consultation with tug operators, including the previous and present operators to ensure the decisions were the most practical for those using the facilities.
In addition to an administration and amenities building, land-based facilities at the new tug base would also include a workshop and covered car parks.