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Aerial Drone of NSS @ Work

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Dredge vessel Balder R has arrived in port to start work on the $127 million Cairns Shipping Development project.

Member for Cairns Michael Healy said the 111m-long, German-built dredging ship Balder R would be tasked to open up Trinity Inlet for large cruise ships after a successful stint at dredging sand for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

“The Cairns Shipping Development is the key to unlocking a whole new tourism and jobs market for the Far North,” Mr Healy said.

“Already we’re seeing this project create 800 direct and indirect jobs during construction, and by 2031 it’ll mean more than 2,700 jobs for the region.”

The vessel will remove soft clays from the channel, which will then be delivered to a facility 3km offshore and pumped along an 8km pipeline to a dedicated site at the Northern Sands mine.

Dredging is expected to take 12 weeks and be complete mid-September, with second dredge Woomera scheduled to join the works in late July.

The 65m Woomera will be used to remove the stiff clays from the channel.

Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey said the Cairns Shipping Development would mean for the very first time, cruise ships up to 300m in length would be able to enter the Cairns Port.

“With dredging well underway, we’ll see wharves one to six also get an upgrade in coming months,” Mr Bailey said.

The project will also enable future expansion of the HMAS Cairns Base by relocating the existing cargo swing basin and improve port efficiency by allowing larger cargo and other vessels through.

Balder R is owned by Danish company Rohde Nielsen. It was specially designed to work in shallow water around the world and is considered one of the most versatile vessels of its kind.

Built in Germany in 2011, Balder R is 111.30m in length overall, with a breadth of 19.40m and has a 6000 cubic metre carrying capacity. It arrived in Cairns on Monday.

111m dredge in town for Cairns Shipping Development