THE AUSTRALIAN Maritime Safety Authority has completed a major $15.5-million two-year project, to repair and rejuvenate essential aids to navigation (AtoNs) off the coast of Port Hedland, Western Australia.

AMSA commissioned the works following the 2019 Severe Tropical Cyclone Veronica, which caused significant damage to electrical equipment, access ladders, platforms, day markers and fenders.

As part of this project, AMSA replaced the top of 13 AtoNs, installed new platforms and above water pile sections, and increased the height of AtoN platforms, to reduce the risk of wave impact from storms.

Most of the onsite works were undertaken using specialist jack-up barge equipment, but other works required the use of rope access technicians, divers and riggers.

Workers contended with strong tides, winds and waves, as well as the risks posed by passing large ships.

On-site work was temporarily halted in April this year due to Cyclone Ilsa. The specialist jack-up barge and supporting vessels used for the project were taken to a cyclone refuge close to Port Hedland to ride out the storm.

AMSA executive director response Mark Morrow said the project demonstrates AMSA’s commitment to ensuring AtoNs around Australia are kept well-maintained and operational.

“The efficient and safe movement of shipping is essential to Australia and our economy,” he said.

“This project will add another two decades to the lifespan of this vital safety infrastructure. Working in these conditions can be challenging as was experienced here, and I congratulate the project team and contractor Austral Construction on a job well done.”

Separately, AMSA recently halted the tender process for a 10-year contract to maintain aids to navigation around Australia. In July, a spokesperson for the authority told DCN its “approach to market has not identified a suitable contractor”.

Maritime services company AMS Group has held the contract for the AtoN maintenance for more than two decades.