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Sydney's First Fleet class of ferries are 35 years old, and an internal refurbishment of the aging vessels intends to bring the iconic symbols of Sydney Harbour into the 21st century and extend their working lives for another decade.
The Golden Grove has returned to service on Sydney Harbour after becoming the first of nine of the First Fleet class of ferries to be ripped apart and put back together again.
General manager of assets at Transdev Sydney Ferries, Daniel Freebody, says the tourism icons are a favourite among the passengers who use them around Sydney Harbour.
"Through the history of these vessels and the workings of Sydney Ferries, we've always heard positive feedback from the customers about this particular vessel," he said.
"This fleet of vessel, the First Fleet, they're quite iconic.
Each ferry will be pulled out of the water and worked on in the Port Macquarie shipyard.(Supplied: Transdev Sydney Ferries)"You'll see it with pictures of tourists around the world that come here and see the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
"Nine times out of 10 there's always a green ferry in the background, and it's either a Manly ferry or one of the First Fleet vessels; they're much loved and much utilised throughout the Sydney Harbour."
Mr Freebody said the refurbishment would extend the life of the ageing vessels for another decade, which were first delivered between 1984 and 1986.
"This particular vessel [the Golden Grove] that just completed the refurb is 35 years old this year," he said.
"Which will take some of the vessels out to just shy of 50 years, which is a pretty impressive feat for a working ferry."
Same heritage look but more 'user-friendly'Golden Grove's two sister vessels, Borrowdale and Sirius, are part-way through their refurbishments which takes about three months each.
"[They are] being stripped out internally and having work done externally as well, [having] new systems installed and put all back together, tested and trialled and brought down here," Mr Freebody said.
"They're a bit too big to put on a trailer and take up on the highway, so they're sailed up."
The ferries are gutted and the refurbishment takes 3 months to complete.(Supplied: Transdev Sydney Ferries)After they have been refurbished the ferries will have air-conditioning, more advanced engines, and superior safety features, Mr Freebody said.
"The internal seating and internal layout of the vessels are much more user-friendly and more in line with the 21st-century expectations of the customers," he said.
"It looks very similar on the outside, that's what we wanted to maintain, the look of the vessel and the heritage feel of it.
"However, as soon as you step inside you'll see that its much more open, the lighting's much better, the seats are updated and much comfier."
Work has started on the next Sydney Ferries, Sirius and Borrowdale.(ABC Mid North Coast: Kirstie Wellauer)Mr Freebody said the refurbishment of the ferries was a boost to the Mid North Coast economy.
"There are 18 personnel dedicated to the project, with each vessel upgrade taking about 6,000 hours worth of work," he said.
"So definitely a boost for the local economy and local jobs."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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