THE AUSTRALIAN Maritime Safety Authority has signed a contract with Smit Lamnalco for first-response capability in the Torres Strait and Great Barrier Reef.

The contract is to commence from July 2024 after the current contract ends.

AMSA executive director response Mark Morrow said the new dedicated emergency towage vessel would replace the existing Coral Knight. He said the new vessel would offer a more modern build with a 46% increase in bollard pull power (120 tonnes versus 82 tonnes) to tow bigger ships, and a greater top speed for a faster response time.

In a statement AMSA said Smit Lamnalco would provide an interim vessel to protect the Torres Strait and Great Barrier Reef for the first two years of the 10-year contract while the dedicated vessel is built.

The interim vessel will also have the enhanced capability of an increased bollard pull of 100 tonnes and a faster top speed. The dedicated vessel is expected to come online in mid-2026.

“Unprecedented pressures on the global maritime industry and powerful economic drivers are seeing the rise of bigger ships which can carry more cargo than ever before,” Mr Morrow said.

“While this is good news for economies, it must be matched with an increase in emergency response capability which can ensure the continued protection of Australia’s precious marine environments, the mariners who live and work in them and local communities.”

In addition to an increased bollard pull and greater top speed, both the interim and dedicated Smit Lamnalco vessels will also have an extra crew complement, totalling 12 crew members.

AMSA said the new vessel would also be more fuel efficient than the Coral Knight, with a hybrid propulsion system that allows the power generation system to be optimised for the desired operational profile and speed.

The authority Consideration has also been given in the design stage for the use of methanol as an alternative future fuel source which aligns with the global push to reduce emissions and decarbonise shipping.

“Our commitment to safe and clean seas, and saving lives is unwavering. That is why we have secured this enhanced capability via a contract with Smit Lamnalco. The Coral Knight has served us well for the last 10 years, and this new ship will serve our future needs,” Mr Morrow said.

Smit Lamnalco managing director for Australia and Papua New Guinea David Fethers said the company was delighted to have been chosen to provide this critical service to AMSA.

“Having delivered on a number of successful casualty responses in recent times within the region, we know the operational task sits well within our capability. The Robert Allen-designed RASalvor 6500 will be a game changer in terms of first-response capability, as well as environmental sustainability,” Mr Fethers said.

AMS Group holds the current contract to operate Coral Knight, along with Teekay Australia.