Australia’s first “green” port seeks to serve Defense
An ambitious Australian company is seeking permission to build Australia’s first “green” port in the Gulf of Exmouth. The $ 300 million and more Gascoyne footbridge The development aims to increase Australia’s defense capabilities by making the port accessible to Navy ships, submarines and border force ships.
The port would also serve the existing maritime traffic of the Gulf of Exmouth, including tourist ships, cruise ships and super yachts.
If approved, the single-jetty deep-water port and renewable energy hub would be located 10 kilometers south of the Township of Exmouth.
Gascoyne Gateway is a fully Australian company, run by people with decades of experience in port management. They have already attracted around sixty investors, many of whom are from the veteran community.
Co-Founder and Managing Director, Captain Michael Edwards OAM is himself a veteran, having served in the Royal Australian Navy from 1979 to 2004.
The project’s eco-certificate
Planning submissions say the port will immediately deliver a net environmental benefit by introducing better regulation of existing vessel traffic in the Gulf, including regulating the movement of larger vessels and their associated impacts.
The port will also reduce emissions from maritime transport through more efficient freight solutions, reducing long-haul trucks on the roads and emissions from road freight transport.
And while many ports around the world only retrospectively introduce carbon neutral and regenerative initiatives once the infrastructure has been put in place, plans for the Gascoyne Gateway include several integrated regeneration programs from construction to construction. ‘exploitation.
These include regenerative habitat options for local flora and fauna and plans to develop a solar farm and storage batteries to power the pier.
Renewable energy will be used to produce drinking water for the local community and to replenish local aquifers.
There has been backlash from community and conservation groups, and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has announced that the Gateway port proposal will go to the highest level of assessment possible.
This will involve a technical report and peer review, which will be open to a public comment process.
Edwards says it’s a chance to demonstrate and test development’s commitment to environmental management.
The project hired former EPA president Dr Ray Steedman as an environmental consultant.
Potential benefits for the naval sector
There are geographic links to Defense – the Northwest Cape and Exmouth serving as an operational and strategic outcrop for Australia and its allies since World War II. Likewise, Learmonth Air Force Base and Naval Communication Station are located in Exmouth.
Edwards says there are few viable logical options for refueling warships between HMAS Stirling (650 nm) and Darwin (1450 nm); the Exmouth solution offers unlimited access to the Indian Ocean without navigation channels and quick access to optimal underwater diving depths.
“Additionally, the option of refueling the Collins-class submarines at Exmouth would likely extend operational patrol ranges up to two weeks while providing faster deployment to strategic choke points in the archipelagic sea lanes to the north. “said Edwards.
He suggests that the Australian Border Force would benefit from an option that provides for a 40 percent savings in operational fuel and maintenance costs compared to those currently borne by Darwin-based operations.
Defense experts back plans
While the project has yet to secure a commitment from the Australian Defense Force (ADF) to use the facility if it is built, the project is not without expert supporters.
Former ADF Vice-Admiral Russ Crane, who has worked with the team behind the proposal in the past, is one of the most prominent veterans supporting the project. He believes the port has enormous potential to help military and commercial interests.
“Having the ability to exit from the closest point in Australia to South East Asia saves a tremendous amount of time, fuel, supplies, and offers great benefits to our navy through training. in our area of primary focus, ”Crane said.
Professor Gordon Flake, founding CEO of the Perth USAsia Center at the University of Western Australia and one of the world’s leading authorities on strategic development in the Indo-Pacific, also supports the additional facilities the gateway would provide to our allies.
He notes that Australia’s largest naval base is near Perth and Fremantle and that there are significant resources in Darwin, but there is nothing between these points. He says having access to fuel alongside deep water and transport capabilities somewhere between those sites would be of great benefit to the military.
The project has also attracted government interest, with former Defense and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith mentioning the proposed port in his recent call for a Strength posture examination to ensure that Australian military assets are well positioned.
“Having a port in this part of the world brings us closer to the Indonesian archipelago,” Smith said.
“From a submarine perspective, that means the submarines don’t start their operation in Fremantle or Port Adelaide, they start in the northwest of Western Australia.”
An Exmouth facility has also been recognized by rescue organizations as potentially offering unique capabilities to support submarine rescue operations in northwest Washington state.
“These would include proximity to areas suitable for underwater exercises and proximity to RAAF Learmonth and one of Australia’s best performing airstrips which provides air deployment capability to the maritime facility. that we are building, ”said Edwards.
“The port would also offer the capacity to support logistics, fuel, provisions for rescue vessels and appropriate dock and quay facilities to embark modules / containers. “
A final investment decision will be made in January 2023 and construction is expected to begin later this year. The port is expected to be operational in early 2025 and the life of the pier is expected to be 50 to 100 years.
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