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Northern Australia Waters: Emergency Towage Service

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

February 9, 2014

Torres Straits passage: Photo courtesy of AMSA

Torres Straits passage: Photo courtesy of AMSA

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has awarded two substantial new contracts to Brisbane-based company Australian Maritime Systems Limited to provide emergency towage services in Far North Queensland as well as to maintain its aids to navigation network.

AMSA Chief Executive Officer Graham Peachey said the Level 1 emergency capability operates out of Cairns and provides a dedicated 24/7 vessel and crew to provide emergency towage and first strike emergency response on behalf of AMSA.

 “This allows AMSA the ability to respond to maritime environmental emergencies in sensitive sea areas of the Torres Strait, the northern Great Barrier Reef, as well as within the Coral Sea both quickly and effectively,” Mr Peachey said.

AMSA manages a network of 492 navigational aids at 381 sites around Australia, assisting the commercial shipping industry to make safe and efficient passages. “About 40 per cent of AMSA’s aids to navigation are located within the Great Barrier Reef, Torres Strait and the Coral Sea regions, which are challenging to navigate,” Mr Peachey explained. “The emergency towage vessel also provides a platform to support the maintenance of aids to navigation in these areas.”

Australian Maritime Systems Limited will maintain AMSA’s aids to navigation network and provide a Level 1 emergency towage capability under the contract. Both contracts are fixed price for a term of ten years.

Mr Peachey said a newbuild vessel would begin operations on July 1, 2014 and will be replaced by a second newbuild vessel in 2016.

The aids to navigation it will assist in maintaining include traditional lighthouses, beacons, buoys, Racons, Differential Global Positioning System stations, radars, Automatic Identification System stations, broadcasting tide gauges, wave rider buoys and a weather station.

The maintenance contractor will also upgrade aids to navigation equipment during the contract period. “These are used as key navigational tools by seafarers, enabling them to take responsibility for their safety at sea,” Mr Peachey added.

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