Darwin has been a strategic base for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) for many decades.
Already home to HMAS Coonawarra and its large fleet of patrol boats, the Northern Territory Government is building a ship lift facility in Darwin to assist the ADF’s ability to operate from its northern bases.
The ship lift will establish Darwin as a thriving maritime services industry hub with increased capability to service and maintain Australia’s naval fleet, oil and gas vessels, the fishing fleet and many others.
The ship lift will be owned by the Northern Territory Government and will capitalise on the Territory’s strategic position in the Indo Pacific region, also servicing the fishing, pearling, tourism and other marine industries.
The Darwin Ship Lift will be capable of lifting 5,500 tonne vessels – giving it the largest lifting capacity in northern Australia. The head contract to build the ship lift facility was awarded to Clough BMD Joint Venture on 8 September 2023.
The ship lift facility is being designed to suit the needs of the Department of Defence and Australian Border Force to service the current and future Defence fleet vessels.
The project will increase the Territory’s capacity to support vessels operating in the broader Australasia region and across the world and unlock new markets for marine maintenance and sustainment.
The ship lift will be used to lift and lower vessels in and out of the water so they can be serviced, repaired or stored, including for safety during cyclones.
The Darwin Ship Lift Facility features:
- a ship lift 26 metres wide and 103 metres long
- capacity to lift vessels of up to 5,500 tonnes
- ability to dry berth vessels up to 118 metres long
- wet berth vessels up to 150 metres long for in-water maintenance
- 16 hectares of hardstand for ship repair and maintenance
- crane pads to support from 100 to 450 tonne cranes
- self-propelled modular transporter units to transport vessels once out of the water.
The Department of Defence has been involved in design, navigation simulations, 3D hydraulic modelling and planning for the ship lift facility.
Design vessel bridge simulations have been completed with Smartship Australia to show how different tidal and weather conditions need to be taken into account in the design process.
The navigation modelling simulates changes to environmental and operating conditions to ensure the design accommodates defence and marine industry needs and provides safe and efficient vessel access before the facility is built.
2D wave flume and 3D basin hydraulic modelling studies were completed to model a range of wind, storm and tidal conditions to ensure the ship lift design is fit for purpose.
Several components of the ship lift facility are anticipated to be completed in Q1 2025 and the balance of work completed in 2025–26.
Look for more information in the next edition of the Australian Defence Magazine or go to infrastructure.nt.gov.au.