IN March 2021, SeaRoad Shipping will introduce a new charter vessel to provide increased capacity for freight across Bass Strait.

The $80m investment over three years will see MV Searoad Tamar replaced with the MVLiekut until SeaRoad’s new vessel is constructed.

Executive chairman of SeaRoad, Chas Kelly, said the move reflected customer demand and would not only deliver more transport options for Tasmanian and mainland businesses, but also increase accessibility to Tasmania.

“We’re taking big steps to ensure SeaRoad’s future and the provision of ever-improving, reliable Bass Strait services for our clients.

“This will lead to greater opportunity for Tasmanian agriculture, aquaculture and manufacturing industries, ultimately attracting further investment in these sectors.

MV Liekut will complement our other modern ship, MV Searoad Mersey II, which is similar in size and speed, increasing SeaRoad’s total lane metre capacity by almost 70%.”

SeaRoad’s senior management team assessed 24 vessels as part of the charter project, including the roll-on/roll-off MV Liekut in Poland in July this year. Ship builders Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft completed the new vessel in March 2020, and the ship has not traded commercially since.

Shipowners, Siem, will complete modifications on MV Liekut in Poland prior to her delivery into Melbourne, including strengthening decks, installing barriers and drainage, and modifying the stern ramp to suit MV Liekut’s new home port of Devonport.

“We’ve had initial discussions with our employees, state governments, ports and union representatives about this initiative, who have all been supportive and excited about what this will mean for Tasmanian freight. We can’t wait to now share the news with our customers,” Mr Kelly said.

“As our capacity grows, we expect to create new employment opportunities for businesses in Melbourne and throughout Tasmania.”

Once MV Liekut’s charter period is complete, SeaRoad’s new permanent vessel is scheduled to come online in the second half of 2023 at an estimated $190m of further investment.

MV Liekut will be Australian flagged and the inherited name comes from the local dialect of Lower German, meaning “straight ahead”. The MV Searoad Tamar will be retired.