New dredger heading for Gippsland Lakes

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The launching ceremony for the Tommy Norton at Damen Yichang Shipyard in China.
The launching ceremony for the Tommy Norton at Damen Yichang Shipyard in China.

Chinese-built dredger will be used to maintain Lakes Entrance access.

A new Trailing Suction Hopper Dredger (TSHD) has been launched in China prior to its delivery to Gippsland Ports in Victoria later this year where it will be used to maintain access to the Gippsland Lakes system.

The TSHD 650 vessel, named Tommy Norton, was ordered in December 2015 and recently launched at the Damen Yichang Shipyard in China. It is now alongside the yard’s new quay undergoing final commissioning, after which she will sail for Shanghai to undertake sea trials. Once those are completed she will sail for Australia on her own keel for dredging trials and delivery. The official handover will take place in August.

The new Tommy Norton prepares for its first voyage.
The new Tommy Norton prepares for its first voyage.

The new dredger, named after a paddle steamer that pioneered the shipping industry in the Gippsland Lakes region in the 19th centrury, will be then used to maintain entry to the port of Lakes Entrance and the Gippsland Lakes system, widely used by recreational, fishing and supply vessels.

“The client originally came to Damen after seeing the quality of our tugs operating in Australia,” said Vincent Maes, Damen sales manager Asia Pacific. “In a visit to China they were very impressed with the quality of the vessels being produced at Damen’s Yichang Shipyard, now boosted even further by the new jetty that makes on-site commissioning possible.”

Geoff Hocking, Gippsland Ports Board chairman, attended the launch of Tommy Norton at the shipyard and commended the builders on the vessel's build quality and the constructive working relationship between builder and client.

“We are looking forward to taking delivery of the new dredger at our port in the very near future,” he said, “and are very confident that Tommy Norton will serve us well for many years to come, particularly as the vessel has been configured and equipped with contemporary systems to meet the quite specific operational needs of our intended application.”

In order to cope with the strong currents encountered in the harbour’s entrance, the TSHD 650 has been modified to increase the installed propulsion power.

An anti-turbidity valve has been fitted on the overflow to reduce air bubbles and visible plumage in the water in order to minimise disruption to the local ecosystem. Additional features include an indication package to measure soil density. This allows the suction pipe to be angled precisely for accurate operations.

The dredging process will also be made more efficient by the installation of the navigational dredging aid, NavGuard, indicating the area and quantity of substrate dredged.

Capable of dredging to depths of 15 metres, the dredger has been built with self-emptying capabilities with bottom doors for dumping and the choice of either a bow connection or rainbow expulsion for beach reclamation work.

In order to increase the vessel’s payload capacity when dredging sand with a high specific density, Damen has reduced the freeboard of the vessel and applied a dredge mark.

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