Big new Panamax class container ships steam along at 25knots or 46km/h. Of course, they’re cleanest at cruising speed and not so good chugging slowly. Port Phillip Bay has shallow, narrow entrance.
Same problem almost killed Panama Canal project. Solution was to stop trying to make it deeper, flipping the logic, by raising water level higher, also slowing the flow, with good old canal style locks.
So why not a short canal, at side of The Heads, when needed.
Port Phillip Bay is deep, plenty anchorage area, and space for combined air and sea freight facility, adjacent to Avalon airport. Lots of land already in public ownership, with heavy rail already close by. Looks like a good option.
In comparison, just the name Western Port Bay is unfortunate. Words in the name, both “port” and “bay”, are misleading.
By definition, a bay is “wide opening in shore of sea”, which makes big tidal surges, strong currents and tidal range to 3m compared with just 0.8m for Port Phillip.
It fails definition of “port”, being “sheltered harbour”, because of notoriously strong winds, as well as currents, from all directions.
Mike insists it’s a deep water port but it’s just a skinny channel, dredged in 1970s to 14m.
At low tide, it’s mega acreage of delicate silt banks, from millions of years of ooze from combination of Koo Wee Rup swamp, salt bush, mangroves and seagrass beds.
Depth is shallow, average just 8m.
Panama Canal is being dredged to 18m and bridge in New York is being raised to 60m clearance for these ships.
It will take much expert, slow and patient pulling and pushing to be sure big ships aren’t blown off track into Hastings. Hardly a good option.
So let’s look at 25knot cruising, out in Bass Strait, to travel to Portland in four hours, less time than into either bay, directly into deep water port.
There’s always been so much talk about alternatives to Melbourne sprawl, for ever and ever, a disaster compared with regional cities needing to be boosted.
Also we’ve always been desperate for upgrades to interstate train transport. So how about scrapping the nonsense of huge expense for Port of Hastings, with huge cost of infrastructure to make it viable, Dandenong train track upgrade and ridiculous extravagance of East West link road?
Why not site a new container ship port to shift population to Portland, with fast train transport of containers to Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney etc?
Bernie McComb, Cowes.