PORT of Townsville has officially commissioned its new $30-million Berth 4 Crane and Cargo Terminal.

The terminal’s completion was marked by the debut of the Port’s new Liebherr Post Panamax Ship-to-Shore crane.

Queensland transport and main roads minister Mark Bailey said the crane would comfortably double the operational speeds of its predecessor.

“The new crane and cargo terminal is able to unload vessels at a rate of 35 TEU … per hour,” Mr Bailey said.

“Combined with the $40.7-million Berth 4 wharf upgrade completed in 2018, it’s more than doubled the berth’s overall handling capacity. The crane’s faster lift rates also mean faster turn-around times for vessels.”

Port of Townsville chief operating officer Drew Penny said the Port of Townsville expects to handle more than 200,000 TEU per year by 2050.

“Containerised goods are one of the key growth areas we have identified for the port, and the new crane will be an important player in helping us ready for that additional trade,” Mr Penny said.

“We doubled the general handling capacity of Berth 4 when it was upgraded in 2018 and now the Crane and Cargo Terminal delivers significant productivity improvements and greater capability for containers.

“The crane also complements the Port of Townsville’s future plans as it readies to welcome vessels up to 300 metres long following completion of the Channel Upgrade project in 2023.”

Queensland minister for resources and member for Townsville Scott Stewart said the state government is looking to support a new intra-state coastal shipping service between Townsville and Brisbane as part of its “$21-million maritime jobs commitment”.

“The Palaszczuk government will be looking to this group for recommendations regarding next steps on the expressions of interest for the new coastal shipping service and the switching of crews to a local workforce, as well as the structure for the training and cadetship support that will be a condition of payment of incentives to any successful proponents,” he said.

“With demand for containerised goods expected to grow four-fold over the next 30 years, it is crucial that we find ways to keep pace.”

Mr Stewart said the Port of Townsville is a crucial link for the resources industry to get its product to market.

“We expect boosted productivity to attract more regular shipping services to Townsville and to help sustain growth in containerised goods and other cargo well into the future. The Port of Townsville is also a crucial link for the resources industry to get its product to market.”

Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said the upgrades formed part of a whole-of-supply chain approach to improving efficiencies and preparing for significant trade growth over the coming decades.

“We’re also delivering the $232-million Townsville Channel Capacity Upgrade project which is now underway,” Mr Harper said.

“Currently, the channel can accommodate vessels up to 238 metres in length and the widening of the channel will allow it to accommodate vessels up to 300 metres in length.”