PORT Hedland has welcomed its first conventional roll-on/roll-off vessel, giving industry a more cost-effective way of delivering cargo to the region.

The 180metre Blue Ridge Highway arrived on Saturday evening and left Sunday morning.

The visit followed 18-months of planning by Pilbara Ports Authority, vessel owners K-Line and cargo receivers Sumitomo. The vessel began its journey in Japan and stopped at Fremantle on its way to Port Hedland.

The ship’s cargo of offshore piping had been pre-assembled onto 22 separate trailers.

The ro-ro vessel’s open vehicle deck design allowed the cargo to be unloaded in about ninety minutes.

Cranes normally would be used to unload a non-ro-ro ship, which can take up to 12 hours.

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Pilbara Ports Authority general manager operations John Finch said the aim was to make ro-ro visits to the Pilbara a regular occurrence.

“The visit was a success and Pilbara Ports Authority is working with all proponents to set up regular RORO calls to Port Hedland,” Mr Finch said.

“This would represent a significant cost and time saving for industry. Not only does RORO vessel design make unloading easier and quicker, industry around Port Hedland can get access to cargo straight from the port, rather than trucking it in from elsewhere.”

To facilitate more visits from trade vessels such as the ‘Blue Ridge Highway’, Pilbara Ports Authority is building new infrastructure to meet the Commonwealth government’s new biosecurity and First Point of Entry Standards that come into force on 1 July 2019. 

 The new infrastructure will allow vessels that come into Port Hedland to have their cargoes inspected or treated if required.

Without this infrastructure cargo would need to be shipped to Fremantle.

Similar infrastructure is being built at the Port of Dampier and PPA is exploring berth upgrades to enhance opportunities for future ro-ro calls across the Pilbara.

Images courtesy of Pilbara Ports Authority

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