Defence fuel depot to go ahead at Townsville Port

F44 aviation fuel for helicopters on Defences new LHD ships will be managed through the Port Of Townsville according to the Chief of Navys answers to questions asked yesterday at Senate Estimates by North Queensland based Senator Ian Macdonald.

In answer to questions put by Senator Macdonald to Vice Admiral Ray Griggs at Senate Defence Estimates hearings, the Naval Chief confirmed that the project is currently under the stewardship of the Joint Logistics Command.

$14 million was allocated to this project back in 2009 but nothing concrete has yet been done on the aviation fuel pipeline or tanks said Senator Macdonald.

A pipeline was built at the port for marine diesel to re-fuel the LHDs themselves, and an Expression of Interest process was begun to gauge interest from commercial operators, but nothing came of it. he said.

However I am very pleased to hear today that the project is very much top-of-mind for Naval Commanders.

The Chief of Navy informed the Senate Estimates hearings that the start date for the project will be in the next financial year and that money had been allocated.

While this is good news, said the Senator, I have some concerns that the scope and detail of the project remains uncertain.

Vice Admiral Griggs characterised the project as a very important part of the LHD infrastructure in our principal mounting base in Townsville, and also noted that Defence had not yet determined the exact way forward for this.

The Department is evidently considering a number of options that include bespoke fuel tanks, leasing existing tanks, or engagement of third party fuel provision services.

The F44 fuel is distinct from commercial aviation fuel in that it has a higher ignition point and a shorter shelf life said the Senator.

Proper management of the fuel in fact proper management of all elements of the LHD project is of critical importance.

Senator Macdonald said he was reassured by the Naval Chiefs saying that _we absolutely have to do it, we know that.

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