Cairns Marine Maintenance Precinct


Tropical North Queensland has a proud and long standing history in effectively supporting the Defence and marine industries. The region has the largest marine services sector in Northern Australia, currently servicing Naval vessels from HMAS Cairns, Darwin and the Pacific Islands.

A recognised key strategic benefit is Cairns’ geographical location within Northern Australia and its significant and dedicated marine precinct with three shipyards, a Naval base and supporting industry, all contained within a tight footprint providing unparalleled logistical benefits.

The local marine precinct is home to high value, innovative businesses which compete globally with PNG and Singapore for contracts.

Cairns’ marine precinct offers a competitive environment which drives innovation, quality and value for money for its diverse user base (which includes the Commonwealth). This sector employs over 4,500 personnel, across 270 organisations, and includes three major slipways with the capacity to service vessels up to 100m in length and weighing 3,000 tonnes.

Services are cost advantageous compared to other Australian ship repair centres, saving Defence time and money whilst reducing risk. This is due to the efficiency of the slipways, the compact marine district and the expert workforce.

Government commitment to the long term, continuous maintenance and sustainment, docking and refit programs in Cairns for Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), Pacific Patrol Boats, Armidale Class Patrol Boats and Custom’s Cape Class Patrol Boats, in addition to current Hydrographic Survey Vessels and Survey Motor Launches is required to:

  • Leverage the precinct’s current capability to ensure value for money for the Commonwealth;
  • Support Northern Australia’s further growth and job creation;
  • Offer a continuous Naval patrol boat sustainment solution;
  • Provide industry continuity and sustain marine capability in Cairns to service the Defence and broader marine industries;
  • Support ongoing innovation and development of marine industry expertise in the region.

State and Federal Government funding is required to ensure infrastructure meets the future needs of Defence and industry in an efficient and cost effective way and allows for competition on a level playing field with additional planning and infrastructure funding required to complete Stage 2 works ensuring Cairns’ place as a Sustainment Marine Hub.


The first stage of the Cairns Marine Maintenance Precinct upgrade will deliver wharves, hardstands, slipway extension and service upgrade funded under the existing $24M Federal Government commitment.

Subsequent stages will look at significant increases in overall precinct capacity to expand industry opportunities to attract and service new businesses to the region.

This infrastructure priority is complementary to, and supports the Cairns Shipping Development Project, as the increased channel capacity will facilitate safe access for larger Navy ships and the relocation of the Cairns Channel swing basin will enable future expansion of HMAS Cairns’ Navy base.


>$100M, by the end of the 2017/18 Financial Year.


Port of Cairns.

Cairns requires a sustainable marine capacity to service both Defence and industry needs and to provide growth, jobs and a secure future for Northern Australian families.


That the Federal Government commits to long term, continuous maintenance and sustainment, docking and refit programs in Cairns for Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), Pacific Patrol Boats, Armidale Class Patrol Boats, Custom’s Cape Class Patrol Boats and current Hydrographic Survey Vessels and Survey Motor Launches by the end of 2018/19 Financial Year.

That the Federal and State Governments commit to funds for planning and infrastructure to ensure Cairns is a Sustainment Marine Hub with capacity to service future Naval and industry needs.


CEO, Advance Cairns Ph: 07 4080 2900

PROPONENTS: Advance Cairns, Tropical Reef Shipyard, Norship, BSE Maritime Solutions
PRIORITY: Infrastructure