Wednesday, September 9, 2015
A shortage of berth space for mega container ships will restrict capacity at Melbourne's port, cruelling Labor's attempts to get maximum value from its privatisation, a leading shipping expert has warned.
Giant "post-Panamax" container ships could even start to skip Melbourne within 20 years because they cannot safely pass beneath the West Gate Bridge, a forum on privatising Melbourne's port heard on Monday.
The bridge has an "air draught" of 50 metres, which is too low for some post-Panamax vessels to pass under, maritime expert Peter van Duyn said.

"Air draught … hasn't been an issue so far but when you get to those larger vessels it will be," Mr van Duyn, of Victoria University's Institute for Supply Chain and Logistics, said.

New Jersey is raising the Bayonne Bridge, at a cost of $US1.29 billion ($1.86 billion), to avoid this problem.
Mr van Duyn repeated the warning before a Senate committee on Tuesday.
He said the Port of Melbournewas never likely to have the capacity to move 6.5 million to 8 million containers a year, a range being touted by the Andrews government as it moves to lease the port to the private sector for the next 50 years.
It will use the money to pay for the removal of 50 level crossings and create a transport building fund.
Mr van Duyn said limited berth space at Melbourne's port would curb its capacity at between 5 million and 5.5 million containers a year.

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