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PORT of Newcastle has welcomed the multipurpose sweeper vessel Lydia to its fleet.

The vessel is to assist with the port’s maintenance dredging program. The bed-levelling vessel will work in tandem with the Port’s hydrographic survey team and David Allan dredger to provide safe, deep-water access to the port.

Port of Newcastle CEO Craig Carmody said Lydia would enhance the overall efficiency of current dredging operations, while improving post-flood recovery efforts.

“As the busiest port on Australia’s east coast with more than 4600 ship movements annually and a gateway for trade worth around $36 billion to the national economy, maintaining safe access is crucial to the port’s operation and so the addition of a multipurpose sweeper to compliment the work that is already being done by our survey and dredging team is an important investment for the port,” Mr Carmody said.

“The Lydia will not only improve day-to-day efficiency of our maintenance dredging, but it will play an important role in flood events like the one experienced recently by limiting the amount of sediment that can accumulate on the channel floor. This capability, along with a rapid and pre-emptive response, will reduce the recovery time and impact on shipping movements within the port.”

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Lydia is fitted with a 9-metre, 20-tonne sweeping bar, which is attached by hydraulically operated cables and is designed to level out the channel by pushing material from shallow to deeper areas in sections where dredging has occurred.

The bar can be raised or lowered to the required depth and during flood events can be used to churn-up sediment to target areas most prone to silt built-up.

Port of Newcastle executive manager marine operations Glen Hayward said the vessel arrived in Newcastle late last year and has been retrofitted to improve safety, reliability, and operational capabilities.

“Safety is our top priority, so we’ve undertaken an extensive program of works to ensure the vessel meets strict standards, while installing CCTV and additional monitoring systems in the engine room to improve crew safety and the overall operation of the sweeper when out on the water,” Mr Hayward said.

“It’s been a huge team effort, so I want to congratulate everyone involved in reaching this important milestone.”  

Lydia will be based at Dyke Point and operate five days per week during an initial six-month trial phase.

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