The launch of a new $4m Fisheries patrol boat built by Yamba Welding and Engineering.
The launch of a new $4m Fisheries patrol boat built by Yamba Welding and Engineering.

New boat makes a splash in Yamba

IT TOOK almost two years to build and cost a cool $4 million, but the newest member of the Fisheries fleet was launched right here in the Clarence Valley.

Yesterday, the 21m vessel - commissioned by the NSW Government - finally hit the water in front of a crowd of ­onlookers at the Yamba marina.

The boat was the largest ever built by Yamba Welding and Engineering and owner Bill Collingburn was proud of the achievement.

And despite launching his fair share of boats during his long career, he said he still got the same feeling during a launch.

"It's something that myself and my staff are very proud of," he said.

"We have 11 apprentices here and they have all worked on this boat at difference times.

"For them to see you take raw aluminium and the components and create something like this is quite rewarding."

The launch itself was quite a mission, with a crew of 12 working in preparation and a special 'low-loader' truck was brought down from Queensland to transport it to the water.

Add to that a few disconnected power lines and it was quite the logistical challenge.

"We had two 120-tonne cranes that lifted it into the water, where it was then towed to its berth," Mr Collingburn said. "Then over the next two to three weeks we will carry out trials before we hand it over. It would be around the $50,000 mark to launch this boat."

Mr Collingburn said the company was looking at building more boats of this size and were already in negotiations "for a couple more".

While establishing a business the size of YWE wasn'ton his radar when he started in 1974, Mr Collingburn said it could still grow bigger, employing more apprentices.

However, the boat-builder, who completed his own apprenticeship with the Australian navy, said a lot depended on bringing manufacturing back on home soil.

"I had a dream to have 10 people employed, now I have got 35," he said.

"We can't train apprentices when you build ships overseas.

"Our boatbuilding and shipbuilding industry has to come back to Australia."



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