PORT of Melbourne has confirmed works at Webb Dock East, awarding the contract to Fitzgerald constructions Australia.

The project involves demolishing a redundant section of concrete and extending the quay line by 71 metres.

In a statement PoM said Webb Dock East was designed as a two-berth terminal, and this project would restore the dock’s intended design capacity.

The project is slated to be complete by the third quarter of 2023.

Port of Melbourne CEO Saul Cannon said the project is an important part of a 30-year investment strategy, designed to create a more efficient and productive port that helps to strengthen Victoria’s economy.

“Now more than ever, we need to make sure we get essential goods delivered to hospitals, businesses, schools and homes,” Mr Cannon said.

“We are seeing a rising number of larger vessels calling at the port and our current infrastructure at Webb Dock East at times does not allow for two ships to berth at the same time. For example, this project will enable two larger vessels to berth at the same time at this part of the port, reducing wait times for the ships to dock.”

Mr Cannon said the works at Webb Dock East would ensure PoM’s infrastructure is able to respond to global trends.

“We’re meeting present needs and also looking to the future to make the right investments on behalf of the Victorian community,” he said.

Victoria International Container Terminal CEO Tim Vancampen said the investment from PoM is critical in optimising current assets to meet the demands of the industry and reduce overall delays and costs. VICT is also investing to boost efficiency at Webb Dock East.

“To complement PoM’s investment, VICT will also be committing $150 million in infrastructure to support the market with faster vessel turnaround and additional slots for our landside customers,” he said.

“The $150 million (in this phase) out of a total new investment of $235 million by VICT will include two additional ship-to-shore cranes, six auto container carriers and six auto stacking cranes, bringing the total STS cranes to seven. The additional infrastructure is expected to be operational in Q3 CY2023,” Mr Vancampen said.

The Webb Dock East project is the third of nine projects that form PoM’s the 2050 Port Development Strategy – a plan that PoM said aims to ensure the port is ready to accommodate the needs of a growing city.

The first two projects in the strategy are upgrading Swanson Dock East and West berths and the Port Rail Transformation Project.

Further projects include relocating the Tasmanian terminals to Appleton/Victoria Docks, developing Webb Dock North into a container terminal, delivering the Webb Dock Freight Link and Rail Terminals (planning and working with the state government), integrating the port with the former Melbourne Wholesale Market site in Dynon, developing new liquid bulk capacity and developing port land in Yarraville.

Mr Cannon said PoM delivers about $6 billion in economic benefits to Victoria each year.

“It’s critical we have the right infrastructure in place to support the economy. What’s good for the port, is good for Victoria, Tasmania and south-east Australia,” he said