Media Release - The search for underwater timber on Tasmania's West Coast drives innovation in local design and manufacturing

Media Release

Friday, 12 December 2014

Innovative local manufacturing is at the forefront in the search for submerged trees on Tasmania’s rugged west coast, with the construction of an AquaTruck Survey Vessel in Hobart using the latest underwater electronic mapping technology to locate submerged trees up to 26 metres below the surface of Lake Pieman.

Minister for State Growth Matthew Groom today joined Hydrowood’s Darryn Crook for an inspection of the advanced AquaTruck survey vessel being built and fitted with the latest underwater sonar technology at its Prince of Wales Bay manufacturing facility.

The AquaTruck Survey Vessel is the first of a number of work boats and barges Hydrowood is having built for its West Coast underwater logging operation.

The Hydrowood project will recover trees that were submerged in Lake Pieman in 1978. The lake is managed by Hydro Tasmania, which has been working with Hydrowood on the project to unlock the trees of the deep since 2013.

The initiative is funded from the Australian Government Tasmanian Jobs and Growth Plan which was announced in July this year after a feasibility study funded by Hydro Tasmania and the State Government, with operations planned to commence in mid-2015.

Hydrowood General Manager Darryn Crook said Tasmania has some of the most advanced marine manufacturers in the world and they had partnered with AquaTruck and other local firms including Taylor Bros, Island Marine and Williams Adams Caterpillar.

“Tasmania’s marine engineering firms and boat builders are as good as you will find anywhere in the world and the design and advanced manufacturing capacity Hydrowood needed is located at the industrial marine precinct at Prince of Wales Bay.

“AquaTruck is a Tasmanian owned company and their boats have a reputation for being indestructible, so we have partnered with them and specialist electronics supplier Island Marine to develop a Survey Boat Sonar System to map the underwater area of the lakes, including submerged trees.

AquaTruck Business Development manager Glen Shackcloth said his team was quick to embrace the opportunity to be involved in the Hydrowood project, developing specialist workboats to help locate and haul the valuable cargo.

Taylor Bros have designed and are building the Log-Harvesting Barge, which is central to the entire Hydrowood operation.

Taylor Bros Director Greg Taylor said the project is one of a kind in Australia, with specialist skills needed to develop the 16-metre long self-propelled barge that will carry a 50-tonne Caterpillar excavator designed to harvest trees underwater from depths of up to 26 metres below the surface.

“We will have had less than a year to get the equipment designed and constructed, which just goes to show the capability of advanced marine manufacturing here in Tasmania,” Mr Taylor said.

Andrew Morgan