Toll Group today unveiled Australia’s newest and most versatile cargo ship, Victorian Reliance II in a naming ceremony at Webb Dock in Port Melbourne.
The ceremony marks the latest stage in Toll’s $311 million investment in the Bass Strait trade, which includes two $86 million ships and major upgrades to Webb Dock at the Port of Melbourne and Port of Burnie.
The new ship is an identical sister ship to the Tasmanian Achiever II, which was celebrated with a naming ceremony in Burnie last weekend.
Victorian Reliance II and Tasmanian Achiever II are the largest general cargo ships to fly the Australian flag and both are set to enter service on 1 March, carrying goods between the Port of Melbourne and the Tasmanian Port of Burnie.
The 210-metre vessels were commissioned by Toll to move freight between the Australian mainland and Tasmania, increasing Toll’s Bass Strait cargo capacity by more than 40 per cent on each voyage to meet anticipated demand for the next two decades.
This increased capacity will ensure reliable and guaranteed access to markets on a daily basis said Steve Borg, Toll’s Executive General Manager, Tasmania and Shipping.
“This is a major milestone for Australian shipping. The two Australian-crewed ships and associated port infrastructure upgrades at Webb Dock and Burnie represent the largest private investment in coastal trading in 25 years,” said Mr Borg.
“The Australian economy will be the real winner with greater certainty around the timely transport of goods between mainland Australia and Tasmania, providing opportunity for producers and manufacturers to increase output and provide more jobs,” said Mr Borg.
The improvements to Webb Dock, the most valuable gateway between the Australian mainland and Tasmania, enable more efficient docking and loading of the new ships and ensure the ongoing growth of domestic and international trade.
In port, the new ships will connect to the local power grid, eliminating the need to generate power from their diesel engines. A new wharf management system and customer booking software will improve terminal operational procedures to minimise traffic congestion and enable better freight tracking and monitoring of refrigerated cargo.
While providing greater capacity and increased efficiency, the ships will produce less emissions. Built to comply with strict standards on sulphur emissions, due to be introduced next year by the International Marine Organisation (IMO2020), the Victorian Reliance II and Tasmanian Achiever II have sophisticated on-board scrubbers that filter emissions.
Victorian Reliance II will replace Victorian Reliance I and Tasmanian Achiever II will replace Tasmanian Achiever I, when the 20-year-old ships are retired from the route they have plied successfully for the past two decades.
The new ships will make the 396 km Bass Strait crossing between Melbourne and Burnie in under 13 hours, an hour faster than their predecessors and have capacity to carry 40 per cent more cargo, both in trucks or in containers.
The time saved will be used in port to enable the simultaneous loading and unloading of additional cargo.
Toll’s Steve Borg said the group was delighted to see the new ships and the improvements at Webb Dock and Burnie delivered on schedule and was looking forward to the first commercial voyages on 1 March.