Northern Australia shipping company Sea Swift has announced it is committed to providing all-year-round services to the communities of Aurukun and Lockhart River in Queensland.
The announcement means that vital freight services will continue throughout the year and not just the wet season, while also offering extended investment and employment opportunites for local residents.
The Malu Titan vessel (pictured above) will run into Aurukun, while the vessel that runs into Lockhart will be the Malu Warrior.
Sea Swift Chief Operating Officer Lino Bruno said this extended service is based upon the need of the company's key customers in having a consistent and cost effective supply chain all-year-round.
"This will ensure there will be no disruption that comes with the torrential wet season across far northern Australia each year," said Mr Bruno.
"This commitment is not just to our key customers, but extends to the wider community, because all-year-round services requires a great deal of local investment in the community and also offers job opportunities.
"Relying on barge services to provide wet season-only services is becoming extremely expensive due to increased regulations and class requirements, coupled with low vessel asset utilisation.
"The only real alternative is for the community to rely upon expensive air charter services during the wet season."
Mr Bruno said the communities of Kowanyama and Pormpuraaw understood the cost and impact of relying on air charter services.
"Even with progressive sealing of roads in the Cape, they will never be 100 per cent flood proofed, and load limits will always apply which means a reliance on either sea or air transport," said Mr Bruno.
"There are also many public and environmental benefits to sea transport compared to road.
"Firstly, remote roads are affected adversely by heavy vehicles such as road trains due to the damage caused to the roads and shoulders, particularly prior to road closures and soon after the road re-opens.
"There is also the general public interface risk that comes with sharing the road with these heavy vehicles.
"Anyone who has driven past or driven behind a road train driving up the Cape will know all too well what it is like and the risk.
"Environmentally, sea transport is much more efficient than alternative modes when comparing fuel consumption per tonne of cargo.
"This means a real reduction in greenhouse gases which contributes towards a better global environment.
"You have this rare situation where the customers win, the community wins, the environment wins, and the service provider wins by having a sustainable all-year-round service."
Sea Swift operates throughout the region’s remote coastal and island communities, with depots in Cairns, Weipa, Seisia, Horn Island, and Thursday Island in Queensland, and Darwin, Gove and Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory.
The company has more than 30 years of experience providing essential services and project freight, and is one of the largest employers in Northern Australia with more than 400 staff and 30 vessels.
It also makes a significant contribution to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the region.
For more information on Sea Swift and its services, visit www.seaswift.com.au