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26/04/2021 02:36 PM

Newcastle: operation keeps port afloat during NSW floods 

Flooding ground much of the Hunter region to a halt in March but a joint operation in Newcastle Harbour kept ships and the supply chain moving through challenging conditions. 

In March’s major flooding event, Newcastle Harbour was inundated with freshwater that poured in from the Hunter Valley and caused significant changes to port conditions and the dynamics of operating seagoing vessels on the water. 

In a rapid port-wide response, Port Authority of NSWPort of Newcastle, terminal operators and towage service providers worked together to mitigate the impacts and facilitate 188 ship movements across the worst of the two-week flooding event. 

Image: water from the Hunter River meets the sea in Newcastle Harbour

“The influx of freshwater changed the salinity of the harbour and made ships much harder to manoeuvre, requiring a higher degree of skills and patience to manage safely,” said Vikas Bangia, Newcastle Harbour Master, Port Authority of NSW. 

“Port Authority’s marine operations team collaborated with stakeholders across the port to ensure the safety of shipping and maintain normal operations in conditions that were anything but. It was a challenging few weeks but the concerted effort by all involved kept the supply chain moving. They've done themselves and Newcastle proud.” 

Port of Newcastle Executive Manager Marine & Operations Glen Hayward credited the restoration of operations to the partnership with Port Authority and the coal terminal operators. 

“Safety has been the top priority throughout – we all worked together to minimise the impacts on port operations, taking a risk-based approach that appropriately managed hazards such as debris and freshwater impacts,” Mr Hayward said. 

“The port has always relied upon all of the stakeholders to work together – whether to manage flood events or to maximise the entire supply chain – so it is pleasing to see another great result from these collaborative efforts. 

“We expect the impact of the flooding will still be felt for a few more weeks with continued discolouration of the water and more silt needing to be helped on its way out to sea.” 

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