The Port of Townsville says a new $85 million wharf will help the city take advantage of the growing cruise ship market.

Dignitaries including the Governor of Queensland and the Defence Minister will officially open the facility this afternoon.

The port's chief executive, Ranee Crosby, says the wharf will also boost defence forces capabilities in north Queensland.

"Now that defence can operate from here, they'll be trialling their new ship - the first Canberra vessel starts trials here next year and it really gives them the ability to operate and provide strategic capability from a northern location," she said.

"In terms of general cargo we'll see a lot of strong growth in our reach to become a hub for northern Australia in motorised trades and contained traffic."

She says the wharf will cater to a large range of ships.

"It's designed with the defence new Canberra-class vessels in mind, it's also been designed for the specific type of vessels, both cruise ships, defence ships and commercial ships, that can access Townsville," she said.

"So it's got flexibility in mind in the way it's been designed ... and that gives us the ability to give each of those vessels certainty when they come into Townsville."

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