Specialised Toll barge carries sections of a Royal Australian Navy warships by sea from New South Wales to South Australia.

To complete the construction of three world-class warships, the Air Warfare Destroyer Alliance called on Toll to transport a series of oversized components from across Australia – by land, and by sea.

The Challenge

In 2010, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) announced the largest Defence procurement project ever undertaken in Australia – the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) program. The program would see the RAN’s guided missile frigates replaced by multi-role warships, the most advanced of their kind in the world.

The ships were designed to be built using a modular construction method – a series of prefabricated modules or ‘blocks’ would be built individually and the new additions to the RAN fleet would be constructed piece by piece from the ground up.

The hull blocks – 65 modules that would form the ships’ hulls – were fabricated in Williamstown, Victoria and Newcastle, New South Wales, and needed to be transported to the ASC Shipbuilder facility in Adelaide where the vessels were assembled.

The modules were classified as oversized freight – some measuring 20m x 18m x 10m and weighing up to 235 tonnes, the blocks would require specialised equipment designed to handle large, heavy loads.

The Solution

After considering the time and resources that would be required to transport the cargo across Australia by road, Toll opted instead to move the hull blocks from the manufacturing sites to Adelaide by sea.

Toll designed and constructed the Toll Hobart to transport the blocks; a marine barge purpose-built to navigate the shallow waters of the river estuaries while also being suitable for ocean towage. The barge has a specialised ballasting system to enable level loading and unloading, and is fitted with specialised deployable ramps to easily transfer cargo on and off board.

The hull blocks manufactured in Newcastle were loaded on to the Toll Hobart using self-propelled mobile transporters (SPMTs). On return to the port of Newcastle, the Toll Hobart was towed by our tug boat, the Toll Osborne, the cargo made its way down the north arm of the Hunter River to the ocean en route to Adelaide.

At the end of the eight day journey, the Toll Hobart was met at the dock in Adelaide – its ramps were deployed, and the hull blocks were transferred to SPMTs and rolled off to the shipyard for consolidation and assembly.

Those manufactured in Williamstown, Victoria were transported to the dock and loaded on to the barge using SPMTs, which was tugged along Australia’s southern coast reaching Adelaide two days later.

The Results

Toll has a proud history of providing logistics services to Australian Defence Force, including the Royal Australian Navy. Drawing on this experience and our marine engineering capabilities we were able to design and build a specialised barge to deliver the hull blocks to the ASC’s shipyard.

Assembly of the warfare destroyers is currently underway with the first destroyer, the Hobart, expected to be completed and delivered to the Royal Australian Navy in 2017.

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