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Work to repair aids to navigation (AtoNs) off Port Hedland, Western Australia. Photo courtesy Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Work to repair aids to navigation (AtoNs) off Port Hedland, Western Australia. Photo courtesy Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Project Completed to Repair Storm-Damaged Aids to Navigation at World’s Busiest Bulk Port

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 1774
October 3, 2023

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has completed a $15.5 million project to repair and renew essential aids to navigation (AtoNs) located off the coast of Western Australia’s Port Hedland, home to the world’s largest bulk export port

The project, which spanned over two years, was initiated by AMSA in response to the extensive storm damage caused by Severe Tropical Cyclone Veronica in 2019, which destroyed electrical equipment, access ladders, platforms, day markers, and fenders.

During the course of the project, AMSA undertook various measures to restore the AtoNs to full functionality, including replacing the tops of 13 AtoNs, installing new platforms and above water pile sections, and elevating AtoN platforms to mitigate the risk of wave impact during storms.

The majority of the on-site works were carried out using specialized ‘jack up’ barge equipment. However, certain tasks necessitated the expertise of rope access technicians, divers, and riggers, who worked diligently in challenging conditions. The workers had to contend with strong tides, winds, and waves, while also being mindful of the potential dangers posed by passing large ships.

In April 2023, the on-site work was temporarily halted due to Cyclone Ilsa. To ensure safety, the specialized ‘jack up’ barge, along with the supporting vessels, involved in the project were relocated to a cyclone refuge near Port Hedland, where they rode out the storm.

“The efficient and safe movement of shipping is essential to Australia and our economy. This project will add another two decades to the lifespan of this vital safety infrastructure. Working in these conditions can be challenging, as was experienced here, and I congratulate the project team and contractor Austral Construction on a job well done,” said Mark Morrow, the Executive Director Response at AMSA.

Port Hedland, renowned as the world’s largest bulk export port, plays a pivotal role in exporting iron ore, lithium, and salt, contributing significantly to global trade.

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