SHIP crews visiting the world’s largest bulk export port will have a new facility for recreation and rest by the end of next year.

The Western Australian Government has committed $13.5 million to deliver a new fit-for-purpose Seafarers Centre in Port Hedland, replacing a 50-year old building no longer suitable for the estimated 150,000 crew that call at the port each year.

The government, through Pilbara Ports, has already contributed of more than $2 million for the purchase of land for the new facility, while the $13.5 million cost of the new centre will initially be funded as part of the 2024-25 State Budget. Those costs will be recovered from industry via a shipping charge, with agreed contributions from port users BHP, Fortescue, Roy Hill, Mineral Resources Limited and Atlas Iron.

The new centre will include accommodation, recreational spaces, dining facilities and a small chapel to support seafarers on shore leave. Pilbara Ports will oversee the project’s development and, following the lease of the new facility to the Mission for Seafarers, will ensure it is adequately maintained. 

The government notes that the thousands of seafarers help deliver tens of billions of dollars in export revenue for Australia, generating billions in royalties for the state and supporting jobs and investment in the WA resources sector.

Final design and procurement processes will be undertaken this year, with construction expected to start in the first half of 2025.

“Seafarers play an important role in facilitating the trade of iron ore and other commodities from the Port of Port Hedland and typically spend between 6 to 12 months at sea at a time,” Ports Minister David Michael said. “By providing some of the comforts of home at this new facility, we are supporting the welfare of thousands of seafarers who visit the port each year.

“The Cook Government welcomes the industry contribution from BHP, Fortescue, Roy Hill, Mineral Resources and Atlas that will help make this project possible.”

Pilbara MLA Kevin Michel said the original facility was built by volunteers in the 1960s and had done a fantastic job of supporting the hundreds of thousands of seafarers that visit Port Hedland.

“I’m pleased to see projects like this one in the region, improving the amenity of Port Hedland in line with other global ports of this scale,” Mr Michel said.