Aust Navy ships coming to PNG

National, Normal

The National – Friday, February 11, 2011

PORT Moresby’s Caution Bay will host three Royal Australian Navy (RAN) hydrographic ships over the next two months.
HMAS Leeuwin will be the first to arrive tomorrow, entering Port Moresby harbour for routine immigrations and customs clearance.  
It will then head out to the waters of Caution Bay, where later next week, it will be joined by its sister ships, the HMAS Melville and the HMAS Shepparton.
The ships are here at the invitation of PNG’s chief of hydrography, Joseph Kunda to survey the sea floor in the approaches to the LNG plant that is being built nearby on-shore.  
The surveys form part of the RAN’s “Hydroscheme”, an Australian programme that had seen charting and surveying being undertaken in and around PNG waters over the last 20 years.  
For this year, Caution Bay task, the RAN consulted with PNG’s chief hydrographer, as well as the PNG National Safety Maritime Authority (NMSA).  The annual RAN-NMSA meeting held in June 2009 raised the task, and was later confirmed last year. The Caution Bay survey is NMSA’s highest priority due to the importance of the PNG LNG project to the country.  Head of Australian Defence staff in Papua New Guinea, Col Mark Shephard said that later this decade, large LNG ships would navigate through Caution Bay in order to dock at the LNG plant.  
“Accurate charting will ensure the safety of the ships as they approach the plant and depart PNG with their valuable cargo. “The survey work being undertaken by these ships is fundamental to the success and safety of the project,” he said.