Huge military development heats up for Cairns
A TENDER process has begun for a $140m overhaul of Far North Queensland's biggest military base amid assurances of a much bigger spending spree on the way.
Prospective contractors for the HMAS Cairns redevelopment met for an industry briefing session on Tuesday to learn fine details about the Department of Defence's masterplan for the Portsmith site.
The first tranche of works include the total demolition of the existing navy wharf, which will be replaced with an entirely new and expanded structure.
Operational support facilities will be built, including an office accommodation building and hardstand storage facilities, and existing logistics and maintenance facilities and in-ground infrastructure will be upgraded.
Tender documents reveal the full scope of works, now estimated to cost between $120-$140m, are aimed specifically at getting the base ready to cater for the introduction of new Arafura class offshore patrol vessels - at least four of which are set to have Cairns as their home port.
Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch said he spoke to Rear Admiral Wendy Malcolm this week and she drilled down on her push for Cairns to play a key role in naval maintenance and sustainment.
"She agrees that whatever happens in Manus Island, Cairns will be in an absolutely rolled gold position to take advantage," he said.
"It was a very positive meeting with her, and I'm looking forward to getting her up here when the Premier lets people start travelling again.
"She wants to take a look at what our slipways are doing and is very enthusiastic about the prospect of a multi-user (ship maintenance) facility."
Mr Entsch said the potential $140m spend was only a taste of what was to come with $600m set to be spent over a decade.
"There's a lot more to come after that," he said.
Tenders are due to be awarded in February next year, with work to start in October 2022 and wind up by November 2024 - about the same time the new offshore patrol vessels are due to come online.
"That's what the timing is for, definitely," Mr Entsch said.
HMAS CAIRNS PLANS
■ Demolition of the existing Navy wharf and construction of a new wharf
■ Construction of new operational support facilities including an office accommodation building and hardstand storage facilities
■ Upgrades and refurbishment of existing logistics and maintenance facilities
■ Upgrades to services and in-ground infrastructure
■ Construction starts in October 2022
■ Finished by November 2024
Originally published as Huge military development heats up for Cairns