Freshwater ferry to go back to work amid plagued Emerald rollout

The Freshwater class ferry, the Narrabeen, is getting fixed and going go back to work amid the plagued Emerald class ferry rollout. Picture:
The Freshwater class ferry, the Narrabeen, is getting fixed and going go back to work amid the plagued Emerald class ferry rollout. Picture:

THE NARRABEEN 'Freshwater class' ferry will be brought back into service amid the plagued rollout of the NSW Government's new fleet of ferries.

In late October the state government quietly rolled out the first of three Emerald class ferries amid protests to keep all four of the larger, original Freshwater class ferries operational.

Two Emeralds - the Fairlight and Balmoral - are now in operation and their first month has seen a cracked hull, rudder issues and a broken window. Propeller works are being conducted on the Clontarf before it's even taken its first passenger.

Very low tides resulted in the Emeralds not being able to berth at Manly Wharf, with services forced to operate from Manly Wharf 2.

The Emeralds are also restricted to swells of up to 2.5 metres, until "passenger comfort" trials can be conducted to allow it to operate in swells up to 4.5 metres.

Minister for Transport Rob Stokes exclusively revealed to the Northern Beaches Review on Thursday that he's ordered the Narrabeen to be put back into service.

My responsibility is that there's a reliable service and that's not happening right now.

Minister for Transport Rob Stokes

"I've ordered an engine refit on the [Narrabeen] Freshwater to keep it in service," he said. "We are retaining it in the ferry fleet.

"My responsibility is that there's a reliable service and that's not happening right now."

Mr Stokes, however, would not provide details on which days the Narrabeen would operate, how long the engine refit would take, and whether the vessel would remain operational after the Emeralds were certified to operate in swells up to 4.5 metres.

"I won't go into the operational details of if and when it might run," he said. "I'm not going to make a commitment about long term, but right now there's a gap and I'll fill it."

There are four Freshwater class ferries - the Freshwater, Collaroy, Narrabeen and the Queenscliff which was retired in October this year.

The Freshwaters can each carry about 1100 passengers, compared with the 400-capacity Emerald-class catamaran vessels.

"One of the challenges of the Freshwater is it's an outdated design and they're expensive to fix, but having the third Freshwater gives us flexibility," Mr Stokes said.

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