Noakes is proposing a floating dry dock which will be a huge benefit to Sydney Harbour and a source of pride.
It will allow Noakes to:
Noakes is proposing a floating dry dock which will be a huge benefit to Sydney Harbour and a source of pride.
It will allow Noakes to:
The proposal has been met with pushback from some members of the community who live in immediate proximity to the shipyard.
This website has been developed to help effectively engage with both the local and wider community and explain the development in more detail.
“The Floating Dry Dock, with adjacent Noakes workshops, fills a vital niche capability that is currently poorly served.”
“There are insufficient facilities in Sydney… Svitzer supports the floating dry dock in Berry Bay.”
“The floating dock is needed, both for Noakes’ ongoing commercial viability and for the historic and classic boat community.”
“I have been a journalist for 50 years… But I cannot recall a story when a small, noisy protest group was so manifestly transparent in its campaign against a worthy project.”
Berrys Bay on Sydney’s North Shore has been a part of Port Jackson’s identity since 1866 – when William Langford started boat building in the bay.
Over the decades some of the most famous shipbuilding families of Sydney have built and maintained boats from their Berry Bay yards, including Watty Ford, Woodley’s, Lars Halvorsen Sons and the Stannard Brothers. Rosman Ferries operated from Berrys Bay, and since the early 1990s STS Young Endeavour has been maintained at Berrys Bay.
In the 1980s, the then-owners of the eastern side of Berrys Bay – the Stannard Brothers – redeveloped half of the shipyard precinct into residential housing, keeping the other half as a shipyard.
Noakes has been producing rigging for Australian yachties since 1979, originally from its base at Kirribilli Marina.
In 1993, with Sean Langman at the helm, Noakes made the move to Berrys Bay and set about consolidating the site from its many tenants.
Noakes gradually enhanced its capacity and hired the best trades in the maritime industry to become the business it is today: a globally recognised and world-leading specialist shipyard.
Today, Noakes has an 80-tonne travelift, a 160-tonne slipway and four sealable boatbuilding sheds, one of which is also sound-proofed.
From 2009, Noakes gained contracts to work on NSW Police launches, Department of Defence special vessels, and Royal Australian Navy landing craft.
During this transition to high-quality government work, Noakes went through stringent vetting processes to earn a ‘KDS’ status – this means ‘Key Divisional Supplier’ and it covers security, reliability, excellence and vetted personnel. It means Noakes is the only fully Australia-owned Prime Contractor to the Department of Defence, right here in Berrys Bay.
Noakes is also recognised by Lloyds, the top marine surveyor and insurer. Noakes is the only Lloyds-accredited square-rigger surveyor in the Southern Hemisphere, due to its industry-famous work on STS Young Endeavour.
Noakes has developed its reputation working on yachts and launches, and commercial craft such as ferries and tugs. Most of the heavy work has entailed lifting vessels from the water and placing them the hardstand.
Unfortunately, there are now many vessels that simply aren’t suited to a hardstand. Without an appropriate alternative to hardstands, the only option is to work on ships floating in the harbour – which shipyards avoid due to the environmental implications – or to tow the vessels out-of-state to be worked on in places such as Brisbane or Launceston.
That’s where the floating dry dock comes in – it’s a critical upgrade in infrastructure that is needed in Sydney Harbour to enable servicing and emergency repairs on larger boats, such as commercial and Defence vessels.
In 2013 Sean Langman bought the floating dry dock moored at Garden Island from the defence contractor, Thales. Since then, Noakes has spent more than $1 million to refit the dry dock into an industry-leading piece of infrastructure.
The floating dry dock will allow maritime services operators such as Svitzer, RMS, Defence and NSW Police to retain their maintenance and servicing inside Sydney Harbour.
The floating dry dock will also massively reduce the environmental impact of these operations.
Noakes is an environmentally responsible shipyard with accreditation from the Defence Department, the RMS and the NSW Environmental Protection Authority.
With the addition of the floating dry dock, Noakes will fully transition the shipyard to the 21st century.
The floating dry dock will allow Noakes to better contain current activity and improve the environment for nearby residents.
Operating a floating dry dock allows the EPA to impose on Noakes a higher standard of environmental protections than they impose on standard shipyards. Not only will the proposed floating dry dock fully comply with these heightened standards – but it will exceed industry best-practice.
Noakes already uses two waste gutters on its slipway, which stops anti-foul, paint and solvents going into the harbour. But slipways can be prone to cracking and leaking - as happened in 2015, when Noakes was fined $15,000 by the EPA. Noakes did not contest the fine and instead committed to improving operations.
The floating dry dock, with the refurbishment, provides an answer to the run-off issue. The dry dock is a self-contained, sealed unit that holds all run-off and pollutants, meaning nothing will leak into the harbour. Moving forward, Noakes will contain all major vessel work to the floating dry dock, and only use the traditional slipway for work on heritage vessels.
Noakes has included cutting-edge sound dampening technology on the floating dry dock, limiting the overall sound output to beneath the current development consent levels. This technology is an innovation that has never before been utilised in Australia's maritime industry.
Without the floating dry dock, much of the current work on larger vessels is tide-dependent. The floating dry dock avoids this situation by allowing Noakes to load a vessel at any time.
Additionally, the floating dry dock is mobile. It means that Noakes can choose whether to bring work to the shipyard at Berrys Bay, or take vessels elsewhere to work on remotely.
Existing environmental laws for boat and shipyards do not put forward any regulations around air quality. With the floating dry dock, Noakes is able to contain the air created from the dock’s activities and ensure it's processed through a water-scrubber and a carbon air filter, eliminating air pollutants.
These improvements are not limited to the work contained within the floating dry dock. Noakes will utilise the air-cleaning technology on the floating dry dock to filter much of the air generated from work performed on the Noakes hardstand.
By bringing the dock into its own water lease, Noakes is not actually increasing its footprint in Berrys Bay. The dry dock will operate fully within the existing working space, under already accepted guidelines.
The inclusion of a floating dry dock at Berrys Bay is not only integral to the ‘working harbour’ ethos of the NSW Government’s Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), but it will allow Noakes to increase its vessel capacity – meaning more jobs and more upskilling of young people.
In the past 12 months, Noakes has employed eight apprentice shipwrights, among its workforce of 85. Noakes is currently approved to employ up to a maximum of 120 staff, and the inclusion of a floating dry dock would guarantee contracts and consistent work, enabling Noakes to fulfil it’s potential and employ more full-time staff. These are skilled positions in niche trades that Sydney’s maritime industry needs.
The Noakes shipyard is one of only three shipyards left in Sydney Harbour.
It not only has a KDS designation from Defence, but it has globally-recognised expertise in maintaining and servicing heritage timber boats.
The Noakes yards at Berrys Bay have seen restoration work carried out on heritage craft such as Maluka, Morna and the Rosman ferry fleet.
With the inclusion of the proposed floating dry dock, Noakes will be able to facilitate emergency repairs on speciality vessels. This includes Police, Navy, ferry craft, the STS Young Endeavour, and also includes large superyachts and specialist private craft.
Noakes and Berrys Bay are integral parts of Sydney Harbour, but so is Noakes’ owner, Sean Langman. Owning 38 boats, and having completed the Sydney-Hobart 26 times, he’s well and truly a part of Sydney Harbour’s DNA.
He was born on Sydney Harbour – in a yacht owned by his parents – and has restored many of the timber yachts that made the Sydney-Hobart such a famous race, including Sir Frank Packer’s yacht, Morna (built in Balmain) and Maluka, which was wrecked on a Bass Strait cruise in the 1930s. In 2013 Sean broke the record for the fastest Sydney-Auckland crossing in a trimaran.
He created a boatyard at Woolwich in Sydney in a joint venture with the Oatley family and he bought the four remaining timber Rosman ferries which are now berthed at Berrys Bay. Sean Langman is the proud owner of the ‘AUS 1’ sail number.
The floating dry dock is hugely beneficial to Sydney Harbour and will future-proof the maritime industry. It will allow Noakes to:
The floating dry dock will immensely improve the shipyard’s operations.
By bringing the dock into its own seabed lease, Noakes is not actually increasing its footprint in Berrys Bay. The dry dock will operate fully within the existing working space.
Currently, Noakes works on boats on hardstands in the yard and on the slipway, which is the ramp where boats are moved to and from the water. Noakes uses two waste gutters on its slipway, which stops anti-foul, paint and solvents going into the harbour. But slipways can be prone to cracking and leaking – as happened in 2015, when Noakes was fined $15,000 by the EPA for an incident when four litres of anti-foul contaminated water leaked into the harbour. Noakes paid the fine and committed to improving operations.
The floating dry dock, with the refurbishment, provides an answer to the run-off issue. The dry dock is a self-contained, sealed unit that holds all run-off and pollutants, meaning nothing will leak into the harbour. The water and waste used in cleaning vessels is pumped ashore and treated. Once the waste is extracted the water quality is potable. Moving forward, Noakes will contain all major vessel work to the floating dry dock, and only use the traditional slipway for work on heritage vessels.
With the floating dry dock, Noakes can contain the air created from the dock’s activities and ensure it’s processed through a water-scrubber and a carbon air filter, eliminating air pollutants (including volatile organic compounds – VOCs).
Noakes will also utilise the air-cleaning technology on the floating dry dock to filter much of the air generated from work performed on the Noakes hardstand. And this will be well above best practise. Noakes will be the only Shipyard in Sydney that thoroughly deals with VOCs.
No, the opposite. Noakes has included cutting-edge sound dampening technology on the floating dry dock. On an average construction site the ‘sonic curtains’ reduce the perceived noise by about 80%. This technology is an innovation that has never before been utilised in Australia’s maritime industry.
In addition, without the floating dry dock, much of the current work on larger vessels is tide-dependent. The floating dry dock avoids this situation by allowing Noakes to load a vessel at any time. This means where there was potential for night work, and the associated noise, there isn’t anymore.
Pollutants, including Tributyltin (TBT) are all over the bottom of Sydney Harbour and have been for many years.
While we understand residents may be concerned about this, it’s important to know two things:
Noakes has set up a community engagement group, a mix of internal staff and contractors, to ensure that we are answering all questions.
We’d like to satisfy the EPA, the Council, and collaborate with the local community and other stakeholders to answer their questions, try to accommodate their concerns, and properly communicate why it’s so important that Noakes not only continues to operate, but improves the way in which it operates moving forward.
There are several steps in our community outreach program:
We are 100% committed to accommodating reasonable community concerns. We are very interested in learning more about how we can work together and we are running a series of meetings and discussions with local residents to better understand what issues we can realistically address.
North Sydney Council will be in charge of approving the DA for the removal of the jetties. If the DA is denied, Noakes will take the matter to be decided in the Land and Environment Court.
While we understand that it would be wonderful for the local community to have more access to the water, the land on which Noakes leases is industrially zoned land and an active work site which would present safety issues for pedestrians. It’s not something Noakes can help with.
As the accurate images show below, the floating dry dock is a relatively small change visually when compared to the immense improvement it will have on the environment. The view for residents that surrounds the shipyard will remain unimpeded.