Gippsland’s new purpose-built dredge has started work to deliver safe and reliable ocean access for the thousands of recreational and commercial vessels that cross the Lakes Entrance bar every year.
The new 60-meter trailing suction hopper dredge was built by Dutch company Damen at its Yichang Shipyard in Hubei province, China.
Gippsland Ports will operate the Tommy Norton from Lakes Entrance with a crew of four people recruited locally and from interstate. The vessel replaces the retiring Pelican, a 35-year-old dredge contracted from New Zealand.
The new $23 million dredge was launched yesterday at Lakes Entrance by Minister for Ports Luke Donnellan.
“We said that we’d get a new, purpose built dredge for the Gippsland Lakes – and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” the minister said. “The new dredge will support our tourism and fishing industries in and around the Gippsland Lakes, industries that are worth hundreds of millions to our local economy.”
Maintenance dredging at Lakes Entrance has been going on for more than 120 years and is vital to provide a reliable entrance to the Gippsland Lakes. Maintaining ocean access also reduces the risk and severity of flooding for local communities at Lakes Entrance, Paynesville and Metung and the surrounding agricultural regions.