A new coastal shipping company will be carrying freight between Brisbane and Townsville starting next year, Captain Steve Pelecanos announced on Saturday at the annual CBFCA national conference.
The new company, Hermes Maritime Logistics and its subsidiary Queensland Shipping will begin operations with the weekly Brisbane-Townsville shuttle in mid-2018, with an eye to expand in Queensland and nationally.
“We’re starting out intrastate, but we’re going interstate,” Mr Pelecanos told the DCN.
“We have many in-principle agreements in place, and we’ve spoken to a lot of people – we’re not going into this on a whim.”
Mr Pelecanos, who is the managing director of Hermes Maritime Logistics, said the company was looking to purchase a multi-purpose vessel with a capacity of about 650 TEU, with a possible ro-ro vessel to join the fleet within about 12 months. The ships are to be flagged in Australia.
During his speech to the CBFCA convention, Mr Pelecanos outlined the case for a new Australia-focused shipping company, saying the planets had aligned and that if a successful coastal shipping company wasn’t launched now, it would never happen.
Among these planets that are aligned was the fact that the price of vessels is low at the moment because the international shipping market is depressed.
Also, the Australian freight task is expected to grow 3% year-on-year through 2035, according to conservative estimates.
Mr Pelecanos also pointed to the many billions of dollars spent annually on road and rail maintenance, and wryly said the sea required no maintenance.
Hermes Maritime Logistics carried out an in-depth feasibility study into coastal shipping with a focus on Queensland.
“We have not only analysed Australia’s circumstances and needs, we have also studied the underlying systems, processes and strategies that have generated successful coastal shipping services in Europe,” Mr Pelecanos said.
“We’ve certainly done our homework and we know that, done properly, coastal shipping services in Australia will not only succeed, but will play a large role in restructuring an inefficient national transport system as well as helping to redefine the Australian economy.”
Mr Pelecanos said he expected the take-up to be slow at first because shippers would take a “wait and see” approach.
“But we have an unshakeable belief in the need for coastal shipping services in Australia, the benefits such will deliver to the community and the long-term success of this new addition to the nation’s transport infrastructure,” he said.