BUNBURY’S new pilot launch – the first in 10 years – has been officially welcomed by Southern Ports and local dignitaries.

The $3.6 million Wardan, which means sea water of Wardandi country, received its name on 7 March after more than 800 entries were received in a naming competition.

Southern Ports CEO Keith Wilks said the vessel, another product of Mornington, Victoria’s Hart Marine, was “a fantastic addition to our fleet” and would play a vital role in Bunbury’s operations, transporting the marine team to guide visiting vessels in and out of the port.

“Our marine team has been going from strength-to-strength,” Mr Wilks said.

“Last year we added the pilot boat operations team to our organisation, expanding our port-run marine services beyond marine pilotage. The holistic approach to marine operations, creates efficiencies in our shipping services and supported another incredible year with 465 visiting trade vessels guided into and out of port.”

One of the eight to suggest the name was Carmen Kurten who will receive a guided tour of the Port of Bunbury on Wardan.

“I knew that Wardan meant sea in Noongar and I thought that would be a great name given the connection to the port,” Ms Kurten said. “The port is a big part of our region, so I’m excited to see it up close and experience what it’s like to be on the pilot boat.”

The official naming celebration brought together competition winners, Southern Ports, its port users, Gnaala Karla Booja Aboriginal Corporation, Goomburrup Aboriginal Corporation, Wardandi Miya-K Kaadadjiny Aboriginal Corporation, Greater Bunbury Elders Group and key stakeholders for a smoking ceremony, blessing and the official naming of Wardan.

Wardan replaces the 13-year old Freycinet which has now relocated to Southern Ports’ Esperance operations.