Jervoise Bay complex set to lift WA industry (Part 1)

On the shores of Cockburn Sound, just 25km south of Perth, one of the most remarkable development projects ever undertaken in Australia is rapidly taking shape. Even now, only months away from completion, it is arguable that many in industry are still not aware of how important the Australian Marine Complex at Jervoise Bay will be to them and to Western Australia.
Jervoise Bay complex set to lift WA industry (Part 1) Jervoise Bay complex set to lift WA industry (Part 1) Jervoise Bay complex set to lift WA industry (Part 1) Jervoise Bay complex set to lift WA industry (Part 1) Jervoise Bay complex set to lift WA industry (Part 1)

Put simply, Perth will soon have on its doorstep the largest marine engineering and fabrication complex in the country. Australian industry will have ready access to world-class infrastructure for the fabrication, assembly and maintenance of large scale components for domestic and international projects. One of the greatest impediments to local industry competing on the world stage will be removed.

Even before the selection last month of a preferred tenderer to manage the facility, smart companies have been incorporating it in their tendering for major projects and lining up to book space.

For a total investment of around $200 million, shared between the state and federal governments, Perth will have a facility that is predicted to generate $200 million of fabrication and engineering work a year. It is expected to create at least 1000 direct fulltime jobs as well as 2000-3000 indirect jobs in the support sector, on top of the numbers who will be employed on specific projects at the complex.

Much of the initial focus at the Jervoise Bay complex will be on the potential for the burgeoning oil and gas industry, such as the manufacture of offshore structures, gas processing facilities and the like. But the facility will be able to accommodate the manufacture of other large structures such as pressure vessels, ship fit-outs and many more uses – it’s likely that the facilities will be used over the coming years for projects that have not yet even occurred to those behind the development.

The new complex, built around the new Jervoise Bay Southern Harbour and covering a total of 180 hectares of waterfront and adjacent land, lies immediately south of the state’s world-famous Henderson shipbuilding precinct that includes the high speed aluminium ferry builder Austal Ships, luxury yacht builder Oceanfast and the Tenix maritime facility that builds a range of tugs, ferries, passenger catamarans and offshore support vessels.

Befitting the importance of the development, the work now being carried out and still to come at Jervoise Bay is on an impressive and awe-inspiring scale. When complete, what has been for the last decade an almost unused waterfront area will offer outstanding facilities for the fabrication and contracting industry –

* a fully serviced common user laydown area of 40ha (due for completion in December this year);

* a 3000 tonne capacity loadout wharf (September this year);

* an awesome assembly hall, the height of a 12 storey building, that moves on bogeys for under-cover work (March 2003); and

* associated 15,000t capacity heavy lift wharf (January 2003).

The assembly hall, measuring 80m by 80m, will have a 150t capacity portal crane with 50t auxiliary unit as well as two overhead cranes with 30m of internal clearance. The 40ha waterfront site will also have associated services and other facilities and 127m long wharf for the fitout and refit of large marine vessels, and on the land side a heavy, wide load road network leading to other metropolitan and regional industrial centres.

Dredging and breakwater construction already completed has created a 10m deep channel and sheltered harbour with a maximum depth of 12.7m suitable particularly for heavy lift ships, semi-submersibles and barges.

Backing the waterfront area will be a new industrial estate comprising 1ha to 10ha “super lots” for related industries and, in subsequent stages, a specialised technology park and skills training centre that will provide facilities for high technology research, development and training support for the many industries that will be using the complex.

Altogether, the Australian Marine Complex will cover more than 500ha. Ross Marshall, the project director for the joint WA Department of Industry and Technology/LandCorp project, believes there is nothing else quite like it in the world. It is certainly the only common-user fabrication complex of its size that is government owned and operated, running under a strictly open-access regime.

“This is one of the few complexes around the world that is not owned by a company that is trying to get work for itself,” Marshall said. “Our focus at Jervoise Bay will be to get work for everybody.”

Since the first workers moved onto the site in November 2000, the project has proceeded with remarkable smoothness. Phil Harlow, the Jervoise Bay project manager (Sinclair Knight Merz), said the project had passed many of its risk hurdles on schedule and within budget.

Sinclair Knight Merz, the international engineering, planning and project management group, has been involved in the project since 1998, initially providing engineering advice before being appointed as the project manager in October 1999.

The initial contracts were for the creation of an island breakwater and dredging of the channel that will allow ships of up to 150,000 deadweight tonnes capacity in ballast. Ships will approach the harbour from the south, utilising a series of channels that links to the Port of Fremantle’s Outer Harbour area at Naval Base-Kwinana.

The dredging was carried out by Dredeco using the trawler suction dredge Orwell for the channels and the cutter suction dredge Wombat in the harbour basin. The work was done to a tight deadline for environmental reasons – no dredging was permitted in summer because of the risk of stimulating algal blooms. In addition, silt curtains were used to prevent silt escaping from the dredging site into the seagrass areas in the southern part of Cockburn Sound.

One of the vital issues for development of the Jervoise Bay site was protection for the harbour. The lack of protection from ocean swells severely limited the viability of the offshore facilities wharf – the sheet pile wharf was built originally by John Holland for Woodside’s North Rankin platform but has been rarely used in recent years.

Part 2 continued tomorrow.