THE Tasmanian Government has formally ordered TasPorts and TT Line “to take all the necessary action” to prepare terminal infrastructure for the arrival of the new Spirit of Tasmania ropaxes.

The directive, from shareholder ministers Michael Ferguson and Eric Abetz, comes notwithstanding the revelation that the cost of TT Line’s shoreside works has blown out from $90 million to $375 million.

Transport minister Eric Abetz said TT-Line had also now finalised the procurement process for the Berth 3 redevelopment, with a new preferred contractor secured. However, the company had recently advised that because of expected delays the project will not be ready until January 2026, that is, after the first of the new ships is due to enter service.

The new price of approximately $375 million includes costs already incurred to date and is attributed to “a global increase in materials and construction costs”.

Accordingly, TasPorts will undertake additional and immediate works to Berths 1 and 2 at Devonport to ensure suitable berthing is available in time for the arrival of Spirit of Tasmania IV.

Minister for Infrastructure, Michael Ferguson, said that pre-caretaker [prior to the March state election], there was a preferred contractor in place and a public commitment by TT-Line that the new berth would be ready.

“The decision to rescind the preferred-contractor status was a unilateral decision taken by TT-Line within its responsibilities due to cost escalations,” Minister Ferguson said.

“The Government’s position remains that appropriate berthing must be in place at Devonport to support the arrival of our new ships.

“This expectation extends to TT-Line ensuring that appropriate fuelling arrangements are in place to support the new vessels both at Berth 1 and Berth 3.”

The Tasmanian Government will also provide enhanced oversight of both berthing projects, with TT-Line and TasPorts required to provide full and immediate advice throughout the projects to shareholder Ministers, including any advice relating to the timing, delivery and cost of the vessels.

The East Devonport rebuild involves the relocation of the TT Line operations from No 1 to No 3, where new facilities are to be constructed to handle the freight and passenger volumes of the much larger new ferries, and associated adjustments to SeaRoad Shipping’s terminal at No. 2.

In a statement, TasPorts CEO Anthony Donald said the section of berth 3 that TasPorts was responsible for was on track and on budget.

“We stand ready to work with port partners to ensure the Port of Devonport is equipped for the arrival of the first of the new Spirit vessels.

“In addition to our current works, the Tasmanian Government has asked us to assist by undertaking an upgrade of berths 1 and 2 to enable the arrival of the vessel, and we’ll work closely with TT-Line to do that,” Mr Donald said.

“Work will progress immediately starting with discussions with engineering consultancies and suppliers, infrastructure and construction contractors and other port partners.”