US company awarded ship lift build contract

Savannah Meacham |

A US company will build a multi-million dollar ship lift in the Northern Territory.
A US company will build a multi-million dollar ship lift in the Northern Territory.

A United States company has been awarded the contract to build the ship lift set to be a major money maker in the Northern Territory.

The Northern Territory government announced on Tuesday the ship lift infrastructure will be built by US company Pearlson Shiplift Corporation under a $48 million contract.

The tender is part of the overarching $515 million state and federal funding package.

Pearlson Shiplift Corporation is one of three international companies able to provide the specialist equipment.

“Our government is focused on local providers but in this case there wasn’t a company able to provide this component of the ship lift,” Chief Minister Eva Lawler told reporters on Tuesday.

The company will make sure sub contractors are from the Top End, with around 250 jobs on offer at any one time and 100 of those being Territorians, Ms Lawler said.

Infrastructure NT’s Shane Dahlhelm said more than 16 per cent of the workforce will be locals.

When complete by 2026, the site will be government owned but privately operated.

Ms Lawler said the Independent Utilities Commission will assess costings when the project is finished.

“We think it will be a money maker. There is a strong demand in the north of Australia for vessels, patrol boats, defence and for our fishing fleet,” she said.

“We want it to be a profitable business for the NT.”

The ship lift will be able to lift vessels up to 5500 tonnes out of the ocean and will provide facilities including wet and dry berths for wash down, blasting, painting and general maintenance.

The project was dreamt up in 2015 but funding was not procured until 2020 when the Commonwealth’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility loaned $300 million with the remaining $215 million bill footed by the territory government.

Clough-BMD Joint Venture has the head contract to build the entire site.

There are other ship lift sites in Western Australia and Queensland.