Electric dreams: Classic Queenscliff ferry conversion would showcase Newcastle’s engineering skills and ingenuity | Newcastle Herald

news, local news, catley, ferry, manufacturing, newcastle, queenscliff, freshwater, politics, nsw

Just over 12 months ago, the NSW government announced it would be phasing out the entire Freshwater Class ferry fleet. They are beautiful, iconic ships that have provided reliable, safe and enjoyable service to millions of passengers in Sydney Harbor over the past 40 years. Over time, whether due to public outcry or an emerging consensus that replacement vessels are simply not safe or suitable for the Sydney Heads crossing, the government has been forced to gradually engage. to keep three of the four ferries. he had condemned. I wrote to Transport Minister Rob Stokes and Treasurer Matt Kean, outlining my plan to save the fourth Freshwater ferry and boost Newcastle’s shipbuilding industry by bringing back a local shipbuilding icon and rebuilding it with clean electric propulsion. for a new life on the Manly run. Sydney Ferries’ fleet of four freshwater ferries were designed and built by workers from Newcastle, in the former State Dockyard of Carrington. In 45 years, the State Dockyard has built dozens of ferries, freighters, naval frigates and liners. We can rebuild them here. When the NSW government announced last year that all freshwater ferries would be scrapped, scuttled or sold, the first to be put on hold in anticipation of the fate was the MV Queenscliff. It has been stored at Cockatoo Island on the Parramatta River since its last day of commercial service. Next door is another freshwater ferry, the MV Narrabeen. A few days ago, Narrabeen was saved from scrapping when new Transport Minister Rob Stokes ordered a full engine rebuild and overhaul so that it could resume service on the Manly run. This major work should guarantee the useful life of Narrabeen for many years to come. Minister Stokes’ decision is the correct one and proves that the local design and skilled workmanship that has been used in these nearly 40 year old freshwater ferries still outperform performance and life. cheap, so-called “modern” replacements. These boats, an imported copy of an inland vessel designed by Tasmania, failed to perform in heavy swells across Sydney Heads. They faced mechanical difficulties and are currently clogging the holds at Sydney Harbor, requiring repairs to their rudders, propeller shafts and sheet metal. With Stokes’ admission the new ships just don’t measure up, the only question left is what to do with Queenscliff. It is also due to a major overhaul, an engine rebuild and the marine safety recertification process required by law every five years. My suggestion to the NSW government is to take Queenscliff back to Newcastle and rebuild it as a proof of concept electric ferry for the Manly run. We know the hull and superstructure are both healthy and we also know the design is perfect for traversing Sydney Heads, but the NSW government’s breakaways and missteps so far shouldn’t get in the way of a good idea. Rather than buying cheap, unsuitable and unreliable alternatives that lock us into diesel fuel addiction for another 40 years, let’s use the Queenscliff to showcase Newcastle’s engineering skills and ingenuity. Let’s immediately restart and secure the future of our maritime manufacturing industry on the shores of Newcastle Harbor by investing in modern electric ferry technology, and start by converting one of the best we have ever built; the powerful Freshwater class ferry. Electric ferry technology is already in use in ports around the world, with New Zealand, Norwegian and Danish ferry operators investing in clean electric propulsion systems. Also, unlike the big jobs on the family car engine, re-engineering a large ferry with new technology is common and normal over the life of a ship’s structure. We have a golden opportunity to invest in new clean technology, provide hundreds of skilled manufacturing jobs and bring back into service daily a majestic local vessel for which she was designed and built just 38 years ago. . Let’s not let this opportunity pass out of spite or the government’s lack of imagination, let’s do the right thing for the Queenscliff and let Newcastle build and re-design the best ferries in the world. IN THE NEWS: Our reporters work hard to provide local and up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:



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