SYDNEY ferry Queenscliff is due to return to Sydney Harbour in the coming months after a period in drydock, but another of its class is about to be pulled from service.
The Freshwater Class ferry Queenscliff is one of four of its kind operating the service between Manly and Circular Quay, alongside Narrabeen, Collaroy and Freshwater.
The NSW government said Collaroy will pause its service at the end of September as its current license to operate comes to an end.
It said while Collaroy is the youngest ferry in the Freshwater fleet, it was designed with ocean-going specifications that mean its servicing and operational requirements are different from the other vessels.
The government intends to make a decision on its future following industry feedback as part of market sounding process to commence at the beginning of October for the potential electric powered replacement vessels, which will inform the longer-term strategy for the Manly route.
There will be a six-to-eight week period from October to November, between the Collaroy leaving the harbour and the Queenscliff returning to provide Freshwater services every hour from mid-December for the summer period.
Narrabeen is the next Freshwater ferry lined up for drydock, due at the Navy’s Garden Island drydocking facility in mid-2024 (subject to availability). Its return in the middle of next year would see three Freshwater ferries available for service on the harbour.
The Freshwater ferries are being upgraded as part of a 114-million investment into the Sydney ferry fleet in the NSW budget.
The government said local jobs are a high priority, with Australian expert naval engineers, electrical engineers, shipbuilders, painters and plumbers working on the refurbishments.
The funding will also go towards future-proofing the Sydney Ferries fleet with a Zero Emission Ferry Transition Strategy.
Market sounding is expected to commence later this year to test the waters and expedite the transition to low or zero technology across the Sydney Ferries fleet and infrastructure.
NSW minister for transport Jo Haylen said the Australian-made ferries would be a vast improvement on the overseas-made River Class vessels that entered service under the previous government.
“This November will see a hero’s welcome for the Queenscliff, currently getting its final touches in time for a return to the harbour for the busier summer months, alongside the Freshwater,” NSW minister for transport Jo Haylen said.
“I am thrilled construction work is well underway on the first two of the new Parramatta Class ferries.
“While it’s sad to see the Collaroy leave our waters, we’re excited to look to the future of our ferries – moving forward on plans for a zero-emission fleet.”
The NSW government has also allocated $43 million in the budget for seven new Australian-made ferries for Parramatta River, with the construction of two vessels now underway and expected to enter trials in early 2024.
The first two Parramatta Class vessels, which were designed in the Northern Beaches, have had their hulls constructed with decking, and the wheelhouses are now being built at their Hobart shipyard.
Their designs would allow for future electrification as battery, charging and engine technologies improve.
The government said Transport for NSW has worked closely with the naval architects, operator Transdev and union representatives, enhancing the design to ensure the defects that “plagued” the RiverCat vessels are not repeated with the Parramatta-class vessels.