Western Australia's Ports Minister Rita Saffioti made the announcement on 14 March 2023. The official statement is as follows:
Geraldton firm wins Fremantle Ports contract for new pilot boats
- Dongara Marine to build Fremantle Ports' two new pilot boats
- Contract valued at $7.6 million, with delivery of both vessels expected next year
- Contract will bolster local employment and showcase Western Australian marine design and construction capabilities
- New pilot vessels will be critical to the 24-hour operation of Fremantle Port
A contract to construct and supply two new pilot vessels for Fremantle Ports has been awarded to Geraldton-based ship builder, Dongara Marine.
The contract has a total value of $7.6 million, with delivery of the first pilot boat scheduled for mid-2024.
The pilot boats, designed by Southerly Designs of Port Denison, will be essential for the transportation of maritime pilots - highly-experienced mariners with extensive local knowledge who safely guide ships in and out of port.
The acquisition of these new pilot boats will benefit port users by improving safety, security and adding capacity to assist in facilitating efficient ship movements.
Originally growing out of the fishing boat industry, Dongara Marine has a proven track record of building a wide range of vessels operating successfully in Western Australian waters and elsewhere. The company has been expanding its workforce to take on this and other contracts, with all its 59 staff, including five apprentices, expected to work on the pilot boat project.
Dongara Marine anticipates over 95 per cent of its contract expenditure will flow to WA-based suppliers, contractors, and staff. Of this, approximately two-thirds will be in regional WA.
The new vessels will be designed and built to the National Standard for Commercial Vessels and will be required to undergo a range of tests and sea trials prior to handover.
Port of Fremantle pilot boats provide services to ships arriving and departing both the Inner Harbour and Outer Harbour, with pilot runs of up to 14 nautical miles (26km) one-way.