Australian-made ferries to take to Parramatta River
Seven new Australian-made ferries will take to Parramatta River after the NSW Government awarded the construction tender to Richardson Devine Marine Shipbuilders in Hobart.
The new Parramatta Class ferries have been designed by Incat Crowthers, leading naval engineers based in the Northern Beaches of Sydney.
The Parramatta Class ferry design will be a vast improvement on the 10 overseas -made River Class vessels that entered service in October 2021 under the previous Liberal Government.
Issues that plagued the River Class included:
- not being able to fit under some bridges with passengers on the top deck
- sub-standard fit and finish
- wheelhouse window angles making night operations dangerous
- engine stalling
- potential of fires or electrocution caused by sub-standard electrical equipment and sub-standard steering components.
The approximately 43 defects pushed their service commencement dates out by well over a year.
Transport for NSW has worked closely with the naval architects, operator Transdev and union representatives to ensure the faults that plagued the River Class ferries are not repeated.
While aesthetically similar, the new Parramatta-class vessels won’t include upper deck seating that was deemed too dangerous to be used when passing under Camellia Railway Bridge and Gasworks Bridge.
The new ferries will also be future-proofed, allowing for future conversion to electric propulsion as battery, charging and engine technologies improve.
Ferry engines are usually replaced after 5 years of service, providing a number of opportunities to make these upgrades during the 25-30 year working life of the Parramatta Class ferries.
The 7 new vessels will replace 7 Cairns-built RiverCat vessels, which are ready to retire after 30 years of faithful service.
The RiverCat vessels were the first passenger ferries to chart a course all the way to Parramatta wharf in 1993.
Construction of the new ferries will begin in July.
Over the last decade NSW has lost 42,000 manufacturing jobs in the same time that Victoria only lost 27,000 and QLD gained 6000. What’s more, NSW has missed out on 4000 more jobs due to offshoring.
The NSW Government is committed to building things here again. We’ve committed to:
- Beginning the procurement process for the next set of trains to replace the ageing Tangara fleet.
- A target of 50% minimum local content for future rolling stock contracts, by the end of our first term – just like Victoria.
- An increase in tender weightings to 30% capturing local content, job creation, small business, and ethical supply chains – to get us to where Queensland is.
- Establishing a NSW Jobs First Commission – an independent, expert body, to oversee the implementation and growth of local industries, supporting and advocating for local firms in bidding for government tenders – like they do down south.
NSW Premier Chris Minns said:
“The NSW Government is committed to building things here again to create jobs, boost manufacturing and end the failed offshore imports of the previous Liberal Government.
“This commitment will produce Aussie-made NSW-designed ferries equipped with modern propulsion technology to ferry passengers well into the future.
“I’m looking forward to the day I can announce a brand new NSW-built ferry. It won’t be easy, and it will take time, but we are determined to do it."
NSW Transport Minister Jo Haylen said:
“The RiverCats have served the Parramatta River faithfully for over 30 years, these new ferries will have the same 200 person capacity, while using 40% less diesel.
“It’s exciting to be supporting Australian manufacturing, with ferries that are ready for a net-zero future.”
A spokesperson for Richardson Devine Marine said:
“We thank the NSW Government, Transport for NSW and Sydney Ferries for choosing to work with us to deliver all 7 new Parramatta River ferries.
“Since RDM was founded in 1989, we have built a strong reputation for building high quality aluminium passenger and cruise/charter vessels for commercial operators worldwide.
“You will find our Aussie-built vessels hard at work around the globe from Tasmania to Tanzania.
“We’re excited to start building the new vessels for the people of NSW and can’t wait to see them on the beautiful Parramatta River.”