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Queen of Netherlands arrives

The Queen of the Netherlands — one of the world’s most technologically advanced dredging vessels has arrived in Melbourne

The Queen of the Netherlands will be the main vessel to undertake dredging as part of the Channel Deepening Project in Port Phillip Bay.

Stephen Bradford, CEO of the Port of Melbourne Corporation (PoMC) says the Queen of the Netherlands is state of the art dredging technology recognised as an environmentally responsible and sustainable method of dredging in the bay.

“It is environmentally and technically superior to any which has been previously used,” he says.

“The vessel has had to comply with extensive environmental, social and economic criteria and has been assessed in line with world’s best practice.”

“The vessel will operate under what are quite possibly the strictest environmental controls ever seen for a dredging project anywhere in the world, and its technologically advanced features will minimise disruption to the bay to as low as practicably possible.”

Bradford says the dredge operator — international Dutch dredging company Royal Boskalis – has extensive expertise in minimising the environmental impacts of dredging, and has carried out dredging programs in many of the world’s major ports.

“As a result of the Channel Deepening Project around 40 new Australian jobs had been created as crew positions aboard the Queen of the Netherlands,” he adds.

“We’ve consistently said that channel deepening will safeguard jobs and already there has been jobs created as a direct result of the project,” he says.

“Channel deepening is forecast to generate almost $2 billion in economic benefits and create over 2000 jobs.”

“It will see the Port of Melbourne, as the biggest container and general cargo port in Australia, remain a driving engine for economic growth in Victoria.”

The Queen of the Netherlands is a self-propelled, highly manoeuvrable vessel known as a Trailing Suction Hopper Dredge.

The advantage of this vessel is its ability to load its own hold or ‘hopper’ while moving or ‘trailing’ slowly along a pre-set course.

The vessel removes material from the seabed via suction pipes that lead from its side.

The material is then stored on the vessel and deposited at a designated location in the bay.

The vessel, which completed the eight week trial dredge in 2005, will shortly begin work in the Port Melbourne Channel in the north of the bay subject to all final approvals.

“The channel deepening project has the backing of the State and Federal Governments, business groups, unions, shipping lines, manufacturers and farmers,” Stephen Bradford says.

“PoMC has the responsibility to deliver this project by the end of 2009 and we fully accept this responsibility and will fulfill the trust placed in us to safely and successfully complete this essential project.”

A comprehensive Environment Management Plan will embody all the necessary safeguards to ensure the protection of the bay, and project works will be subject to independent monitoring.

Bradford says bay users should be mindful of the restricted access areas that have been established around the dredge.

A restricted access area of 200 metres in Port Phillip Bay and 50 metres in the Yarra River will apply around dredging equipment.

“The Queen of the Netherlands is a large vessel and safety is a key priority for the port,” he says.

“Public safety is paramount and I would urge all bay users to be mindful of the restricted access areas, and in the interest of personal safety keep clear of all dredging equipment.”

The Queen of the Netherlands previously worked in Oman in the Middle East.

PoMC will maintain a proactive approach to keeping the Victorian community informed on the progress of the project through the dedicated website www.channelproject.com.

PoMC can also be directly contacted using the toll free number 1800 731 022, or via email channelproject@portofmelbourne.com

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