Sydney Harbour has new stalwarts to support critical maritime capabilities, with an $11.5 million dollar investment into two operational vessels, custom-built in the heart of regional New South Wales.

The state-of-the-art vessels, the Burra and Girawaa, are the fastest response vessels ever commissioned by Port Authority.

They are designed to play a pivotal role in major on-water incidents, including firefighting operations both on and from the water.

Each year, Port Authority NSW responds to over 1000 incidents in Sydney ports alone, including vessel fires, oil pollution and water rescues.

The vessels were constructed by local manufacturer and family-run shipyard Birdon in Port Macquarie, involving around 60 workers.

The multimillion-dollar build was a critical project for Port Authority of NSW, replacing Shirley Smith and Ted Noffs, that have been retired after almost 40 years of loyal service.

Key facts:

  • Play a key role in emergency actions and marine pollution response to protect life, property, infrastructure and the marine environment.
  • Firefighting both on water and from the water where fires are in difficult locations for land crews.
  • Supporting Maritime NSW and NSW Police in major on water operations.
  • Can pump 16,000 litres of sea water per minute - equivalent to the capacity of 4 large fire engines
  • Can project water to over 90 metres - almost the length of a standard soccer field.
  • Can travel at speeds of 27 knots (50km/h).
  • Can turn 365 degrees in 60 metres, while travelling at 20 knots, making them extremely agile in the water.
  • Capable of travelling in shallow water.
  • Fitted with an underwater surveillance measuring and monitoring systems.

Quotes attributable to Transport Minister Jo Haylen: “Today is a landmark day as we unleash the Burra and Girawaa, two sleek vessels designed to safeguard our waterways with unmatched speed and precision for decades to come.

“Seeing these vessels in action, you know our lands and waterways are in safe hands. Each boat can pump 16,000 litres of sea water per minute – equivalent to the capacity of four large fire engines.

“This investment has delivered cutting-edge vessels for Sydney Harbour and Botany, supported local manufacturing, retained highly skilled workers, and stimulated our regional economy.

Quotes attributable to Port Authority CEO Captain Philip Holliday: “These vessels are befitting of the hard-working harbours they have been built especially for and embody Port Authority's commitment to excellence and innovation.

“The Burra and Girawaa will become the new icons of our working harbours, honouring the rich tapestry of maritime heritage in Coastal Sydney and the Traditional Owners whose waters and lands we help to protect every day.