A new boat has joined the fleet of vessels tasked with protecting and servicing the Great Barrier Reef.
Jointly funded by the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments, the Island Guardian will be based at Townsville and will be available for operations to service the marine and island national parks right across the reef.
The new 20-metre-long vessel was designed by Australian designer Incat Crowther and built in Brisbane by Norman R Wright and Sons at a cost of $6.3 million. It will be operated by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service to transport up to six tonnes of materials, tools and machinery.
The Island Guardian takes the total number of vessels in the Reef Joint Field Management Program fleet to 21 boats. It has space for a crew of seven people, an endurance of up to 10 days and a range of up to 500 nautical miles, and has the capability of driving up onto a beach to unload vehicles and equipment from a forward ramp.
Federal Minister for Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek said the Federal and Queensland State Governments were committed to protecting the Great Barrier Reef for future generations.
“The launch of the Island Guardian means our fantastic rangers are able to do more of their vital work to manage the reef and the more than 1000 islands in the area,” she said.
“There are 347 public moorings and 289 reef protection markers in the Great Barrier Reef, Island Guardian will assist in maintaining these and protecting important reef and seagrass habitats from anchor damage,” Queensland Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leanne Linard added.
“This new barge will travel wherever its needed across the Reef to transport crucial equipment to maintain, protect and improve protected islands, making it a fine addition to the fleet.”
Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef Senator Nita Green welcomed the addition of the Island Guardian to the fleet.
“It will mean more of the great work our rangers and scientists are doing out on the reef will be supported,” she said.