Moves to calm King Island shipping storm

Replacement: The Investigator II in Devonport, King Island residents are concerned it won't be adequate for the island's shipping needs.

Replacement: The Investigator II in Devonport, King Island residents are concerned it won't be adequate for the island's shipping needs.

The government is confident King Island’s shipping needs will be met despite community fears the ship due to take over the route in April is not up to the job.

TasPorts has acquired the ship Investigator II as a temporary solution to SeaRoad ending its King Island service.

Infrastructure minister Rene Hiding said he understood concerns about Investigator II and was confident it would “adequately cater for King Island’s shipping requirements during this interim period”.

“The only other option would have been to not have a shipping service at all, which was not an option we were prepared to accept,” he said.

Some King Islanders have raised concerns about Investigator II’s small size, reliability and ability to handle the rough seas of Bass Strait.

Labor’s federal MP for Braddon Justine Keay and Independent Murchison MLC have also questioned the government’s plan.

Reliability of the service is one key concern for members of King Island Shipping Group, according to chair Greg Morris.

Mr Morris said he was concerned Investigator II would be weather-dependent, which would impact its ability to the deliver the planned three services a week.

“Any schedule that they can’t keep will cost us money,” he said.

A TasPorts spokesperson said the organisation was “well positioned to provide the necessary skills, experience and systems to quickly deliver a reliable freight option for the King Island community”.

Investigator II has been reviewed and evaluated by an independent marine surveyor, TasPorts' fleet manager and Polaris Marine.

The TasPorts spokesperson said concerns about the ship’s size were mitigated by having three sailings a week.

TasPorts is also working with the Department of Primary Industry, Parks, Water and Environment to ensure staff are trained to deal with any potential animal welfare concerns that may arise.

King Island mayor Duncan McFie said he understood the concerns of residents and acknowledged the arrangement is far from perfect.

“Everyone agrees that this is not the best vessel … but it’s an interim solution,” he said.

“It’s all we’ve got. That’s not to say there may be unforeseeable problems.”

Councillor McFie said he had been assured by the state government Investigator II would be able to handle the waters of the Bass Strait.

“I know the state government has worked really hard on this,” he said.

Investigator II arrived in Devonport on March 22.

TasPorts has committed to providing weekly updates on the King Island service.

This story Moves to calm King Island shipping storm first appeared on The Advocate.