Protecting the Reef

Protecting the reef


The Great Barrier Reef is set to become even safer for shipping thanks to a state-of-the-art
sea traffic control system designed by an innovative Queensland company.

The system will be one of the world’s most sophisticated and will help coordinate traffic at
five Queensland ports and along 3000kms of the world’s most sensitive sea lanes.

The contract to design and install the new Vessel Traffic Services – Decision Support Tool
(VTS-DST) has been awarded to Brisbane-based Australian Maritime Systems Group
(AMSG) by Maritime Safety Queensland following a global competitive tendering process.
It will replace the REEFVTS shipping control system, which has successfully protected the
Great Barrier Reef since 2004, and the five port control VTS systems at Brisbane, Cairns,
Townsville, Gladstone and Hay Point.

“There are few places on Earth as beautiful and precious as the Great Barrier Reef – or as
challenging for shipping,” said AMSG Managing Director John Sugarman.

“Our system will give VTS operators the clearest and most up-to-date picture they have ever
seen of shipping passing through the Great Barrier Reef.

“And it will also help predict and warn of potential problems – enabling port authorities and
captains to plan even safer journeys.”

Around 4000 commercial vessels a year pass through the waters controlled by REEFVTS.
At the core of the new VTS-DST will be the V3000 traffic management and information
system built by AMSG’s long-time technology partner SAAB and operated by 70 of the
world’s major ports, including Rotterdam, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

The system will receive information from radar, CCTV, meteorological sensors and
Automatic Identification System signals emitted from ships via satellite or radio

It will significantly improve the speed, quality and breadth of information passing between
ships and on-shore control centres, improving not only marine safety but also the efficiency
of Queensland’s economically vital sea lanes.

It will also improve severe weather and cyclone-resilience by allowing centres to take over
each other’s area of operations in the event of a natural disaster, ensuring uninterrupted
vessel traffic management.

The $36m installation and maintenance contract was signed between Maritime Safety
Queensland and AMSG in Brisbane earlier this month.
A team of 15 highly-skilled AMSG engineers will deliver the new VTS-DST.

“We’re delighted the Queensland Government has chosen to back a Queensland company
for this important contract,” Mr Sugarman said.

“Australian Maritime Systems Group has some of the best and brightest in the business and
we’re ready to deliver one of the most sophisticated vessel traffic services ever built.”

In April this year AMSG was awarded the contract to design and install a new VTS system at
Western Australia’s Port Hedland – the world’s largest bulk export port – on behalf of Pilbara
Ports Authority (PPA).

And in June the company was awarded a contract by Chevron Australia to design and install
a new VTS system to manage shipping to and from the Gorgon Project on Barrow Island,
60km off the coast of Western Australia.

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Media Contact: Stuart Sherwin, Sequel PR – 0403 090 914 or 07 3251 8144

Improving tech boosts local work

LONG-time North West Shelf LNG navigation aid collaborator Australian Maritime Systems Group managing director John Sugarman has told Energy News he sees more opportunities for companies like his as technology improves.

With LNG projects moving from the construction to operations and maintenance phase, Sugarman said much the existing onshore equipment is now coming to the end of its life and needs upgrading.

“There are also a lot of larger companies that have taken up the big contracts and are looking for companies like ourselves to subcontract the specialist side of the business,” he said.

The Brisbane-headquartered company was awarded a contract to install a new vessel tracking service system to manage shipping to and from the Gorgon project, having already installed offshore and onshore marine monitoring systems for Wheatstone.

The company has completed more than 40 projects across 15 countries across Asia, Europe, North and South America and Australia.

AMS, which focuses on the defence as well as oil and gas sectors, has tended to centralise some of its expertise, particularly at its head office, where it can remotely analyse a lot of the new high-tech gear projects have, and send out technicians when required.

“A lot of the software you can get in and do any rebooting, reconfiguration – that’s where technology is really going,” Sugarman, who has been a director at AMS since 2000, said.

“A lot of it can be done remotely, and when necessary we get our technicians out to do the on the ground work.”

While AMS used to have more depots around Australia, in 2015 it launched a mobile facility, currently heading down the WA coast having worked in Darwin, accompanied by helicopters, on scheduled visits to remote onshore sites.

Sugarman described the massive double semi-trailer as “quite sophisticated”.

“We know what’s required to be done on a scheduled basis, then we have the emergency response from a number of our depots, both on the west coast to down south and on the east coast.

“Then we have people strategically located for any emergency outage work and emergency rectification that can’t be done remotely that we can send our technicians to fix.

“We’re now looking at the continual maintenance of the specialist equipment that we’ve supplied.”