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All the latest news on the commercial marine sector.



Brisbane-based Aluminium Boats Australia (ABA) has won the tender to build three Class One catamarans for the Queensland Police Service (QPS).

Queensland Police Minister, Jack Dempsey, who announced the contract in early August, said ABA had submitted an impressive tender to build the 24m One2Three-designed boats which will be located in Townsville, Cairns and the Whitsundays.

"ABA has a proven track record of providing custom-made boats for specialised used," said Dempsey.

"It is great to see not only a boost to QPS capability but also the economy here in Brisbane.

"ABA has recently completed some significant projects, including the construction of a number of high-speed ferries for the Gladstone LNG project, as well as passenger ferries for the Queensland tourism industry and international markets," he added.

Dempsey said the vessels would cost about $12.4 million, with the funding allocated over three years as part of the QPS Vessel Replacement Plan, however the official contract award notice put the total value of the contract as $13.97 million.

QPS Commissioner, Ian Stewart said the three new boats would join three similar craft currently deployed in Thursday Island, Yeppoon and Brisbane.

"The vessels are fitted with modern electronics and will significantly enhance the capability of the Water Police," said Stewart.

"They will be deployed as mobile command posts in disasters and major events, as search-and-rescue platforms and as floating police stations.

"The latest three to be built will replace and refresh the remainder of the QPS’s six Class One vessels," he said.

The cats will travel at 20kts and have provision to stern-launch a 6m RIB. They are also designed to stay at sea for extended periods on patrol or other duties.

Delivery of the first cat will be in April 2014, the additional two to follow in August and December.


Two longstanding directors left the board of listed shipbuilder Austal within a matter of days in late June/early July.

First to go was the company’s deputy chairman John Poynton AM. His resignation was shortly followed that of former finance director Michael Atkinson. Poynton had been a director since 1998, while Atkinson had been with company since 1990.

Austal said Poynton’s decision reflected a desire to devote more time to his other business and not-for-profit activities. Company chairman John Rothwell thanked Poynton for his contribution over many years.

"It’s a matter of public record that John has made an immense contribution to the Australian business and finance sector over the course of his career, particularly here in Western Australia. Austal has been very fortunate to have a director of his stature on the board for so many years," said Rothwell.

Poynton said his years at Austal had been tremendously rewarding.

"Working with John and the board to help turn the potential we saw in Austal in the late 1990s into reality has been immensely satisfying," said Poynton. "Having experienced such tremendous development at Austal, for me it feels like the right time to shift my attention to new challenges, which I can only hope will be as exciting and rewarding as Austal has been."

Atkinson announced his retirement following a 23-year career with the company and also decided to relinquish his role as executive director.

Atkinson joined Austal as financial controller in 1990 and held senior finance positions within the business for his entire career. During his last six months in the business he had been working closely with Austal’s current chief financial officer Greg Jason, who was appointed CFO earlier this year.

Austal CEO Andrew Bellamy thanked Atkinson for his role in shaping the company’s executive leadership team.

"Mike has a deep understanding of the business and I am very grateful that he made the benefits of that experience available to me, Greg and others in the senior management team," said Bellamy. "That insight has certainly helped keep us on the right course."

Rothwell also paid tribute to Atkinson. "Having worked with Mike from before Austal was founded I know his retirement is extremely well deserved," he said.


The final keel block (pictured right) for the future Royal Australian Navy destroyer, Hobart, has been successfully lifted into place by the AWD Alliance in Adelaide.

The block was the eighteenth of 31 blocks to be joined.

Consolidation of the entire hull will be complete in early 2014 and will be followed by fit-out and testing of the ship’s systems before sea trials are undertaken.

The AWD Alliance is made up of the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) representing the Australian Government, ASC as the lead shipbuilder and Raytheon Australia as the mission systems integrator.


Boat manufacturer Steber International will deliver a second security vessel for the Port of Melbourne Corporation (PoMC).

This follows the deployment of the MV Tim Muir in 2010, which was also built by Steber at its Taree-NSW factory.

The second 38-foot vessel will add to PoMC’s security and incident response capability and play an important role in ensuring the port’s commercial ship visits are not impeded by recreational boat operators anchoring in shipping channels.

"We are delighted to have signed contracts with the manager of the largest container port in the nation to provide a vessel which will assist with safety and security on Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay", said general manager Alan Steber.

"We expect to deliver the vessel to PoMC later this year after around 4500 hours of labour
and trials on the Manning River", he said.

The boat has a length of 12.2m and a maximum speed of 31.5kts from two 420hp Yanmar diesels.


Mermaid Marine Australia Limited (MMA) has been awarded a vessel contract with Subsea 7 to provide tug and barge support for the Heavy Lift & Tie-in Scope on the Chevron-operated Gorgon Project.

Utilising a combination of owned and chartered vessels, MMA will provide a fleet of nine tug and barge sets to support subsea installation works as well as an offshore positioning tug. MMA will act as lead contractor and will subcontract with other vessel operators to provide the overall vessel requirements. All craft involved with the works will be delivering equipment to the Gorgon and Jansz-Io fields offshore Barrow Island and will be operated under all relevant Australian manning requirements.

The total contract value is in excess of $100 million. The contract will commence in October 2013 and is due to complete in the 2014 calendar year.

MEC building green patrol cat for Barrier Reef

Construction of a new catamaran patrol vessel is underway on the Gold Coast following the award of a Queensland Government tender to Marine Engineering Consultants (MEC).

The Department of Environment and Resource Management issued the tender for the construction and delivery of the 24m Long Range Patrol Vessel, with bids closing in July last year.

Designed by Incat Crowther, it will replace an existing 20m displacement patrol boat operated by the Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing (DNPRSR), and Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service.

According to Incat Crowther, MEC’s excellent build quality, value and support were pivotal to winning the construction tender. The companies have collaborated on numerous projects in the past. More recent projects include Riverside Marine’s 24m catamaran fast ferry Riverside Avalon and the 34m sister ships Riverside Catalina and Riverside Mandalay.

Incat Crowther said the concept design it submitted is characterised by its consideration for its operational environment and by the application of several new technologies.

The new vessel is to fulfil the day-to-day management role of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (GBRWHA) – performing a range of tasks including marine protected area management, island national park management, compliance operations, incident response, diving operations and research. Based in Cairns it will operate out to 200nm from the entire Queensland coastline throughout the GBR and Queensland coast.

The GBRWHA is jointly managed by DNPRSR and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.


Among the environmental features of the aluminium catamaran are 80m² of solar panels, high R-value insulation, zoned air-conditioning, as well as window blinds and shutters to reduce the impact of the Queensland sun.

The extensive solar array takes advantage of modern lithium-ion batteries to reduce the use of diesel generators both in operation and at anchor at night.

The batteries are charged during the day by solar power, allowing the vessel’s diesel generators to be shutdown overnight. At these times, the battery bank will supply power for house loads, including air-con. In the event of increased demand, the generators will automatically start. Depending on the load case, they will either provide direct power or charge the batteries. This reduces running costs and, according to Incat Crowther, also dramatically reduces the cost of maintaining the Northern Lights generators.

The design firm says the cost-effective nature of this configuration is further enhanced by the benefits of lithium-ion batteries. These are a quarter of the weight and can provide up to 10 times the power and 10 times the lifecycle of lead acid batteries.

The vessel’s aft deck houses a cradle for a 6m RIB which is capable of being launched and retrieved at speeds of up to 6kts and in seas up to 3m. Dive-tank racks are provided, as are a pair of bench seats for dive preparation. The main deck cabin features a large wet room aft with toilet, shower and laundry facilities.

A mess with seats for 15 is situated opposite a large galley and adjoining pantry housing provisions for long missions. Additional storage is provided in the bridging structure.

Forward of this is a second lounge area to starboard and a pair of computer workstations to port. There are two twin cabins forward, with a bathroom and doors to the side deck for easy access around the vessel. Twin cabins in the hulls accommodate an additional eight crew.

Aft of the wheelhouse the upper deck features two twin cabins, a bathroom, power tools store and a cold store.

The aft upper deck is divided into two distinct spaces. Aft is a 4.5m RIB with crane for launch and retrieval. This area also houses the vessel’s cargo space, separated from the crew recreation area by cargo barriers. Forward of these is an outdoor mess area with barbecue. Storage capacity is provided for 1500lt of petrol for use on the RIBs.

Incat Crowther evaluated multiple drivetrain options, with hybrid propulsion at the forefront. Long-term costs were taken into account, the decision being to combine conventional diesels with the supplementary solar panels.

Power is from a pair of Yanmar 6AYM-WGT engines producing 670kW each and driving five-blade props. Capable of speeds up to 25kts, the catamaran is optimised for efficient cruising between 12 and 20kts.

The boat is due for launch in early 2014.


Salter Boats recently enjoyed fairly unique boat-selling role – offering a police patrol boat for sale by expressions of interest.

Originally built for the NSW Water Police and completed in 2000, Falcon (right) was later sold to their WA counterparts. The 16.3m aluminium monohull is in USL 2B survey for four crew and eight others, and completed a major refit in 2010.

Having also been repowered after heading west, the boat’s twin 700hp Scania DI1269M engines have only logged 2400 hours and give a 28-knot top speed and 20kts cruise. They are coupled to Twin Disc MG5114A gearboxes, while the genset is a 17kVa Sea Wasp.

Expressions of interest closed in late August.


A collaborative research project between the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), the University of Queensland (UQ) and the University of Western Australia will investigate the safety culture of shipping operations over a three-year period.

AMSA and UQ have secured a linkage grant through the Australian Research Council (ARC) to examine the predictors and outcomes of safety culture in the Australian maritime industry.

AMSA Ship Safety Division general manager Allan Schwartz said the findings from the project would be used to improve safety policies, regulations and practices that aim to reduce the number of accidents and incidents in Australian waters.

"This project will make a significant contribution to progress maritime safety in general by providing a better understanding of the issues surrounding safety culture in the industry," said Schwartz.

"Comparatively, little work has been done in the maritime domain, with only a handful of studies of maritime safety culture done internationally," he said.

AMSA says further research is needed to investigate the influence of safety culture on behaviour in order to develop training programs, work design, procedures, policies and regulations.

The project will be offered via the University of Queensland’s School of Psychology, supported by AMSA’s Human Factors section in the Ship Operations and Qualifications area.


Organisers of the Pacific International Maritime Exposition (PIME) say the 2013 event promises to be one of the most exciting ever staged in Sydney.

If their predictions are correct, Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Exhibition and Convention Centre will be awash with warships, tall ships and naval personnel from around the world during the second week in October.

The expo is being staged in conjunction with the International Fleet Review. This historic event will include dozens of vessels from more than 20 nations.

Pacific 2013 will be held from October 7 to 9 at the Sydney Exhibition and Convention Centre. Staged across four halls, it is the biggest PIME ever held in the series of events run by Maritime Australia Limited (MAL).

MAL says PIME brings together industry, government and defence professionals across a broad spectrum of commercial maritime and naval defence sectors.


The West Australian maritime sector has received a boost with the opening of a new $1.7 million maritime simulator training suite.

Said to be the only suite of its kind in the country, the simulators are located at Challenger Institute of Technology’s Fremantle campus and will be used for training students in a range of courses, from certificate II to advanced diploma.

Challenger Institute CEO, Liz Harris said the new facilities would further bolster the innovative maritime training delivered at the institute.

"Technological and training advances, such as this new suite of maritime simulators, ensures Challenger remains the benchmark institute for maritime training in Australia," said Harris.

"The scope and diversity of training opportunities for those using the simulator suite are exceptional, with the Engine Room and Cargo Handling Simulators unique to Challenger, among all training institutes in Australia.

"Furthermore, the Ship Bridge Simulator features the most advanced mathematical modelling and shipping databases in the world, and the hardware replicates the current equipment installed on seagoing ships, making the training experience exceptionally realistic for students," she said.

Terry Redman, WA Minister for Training and Workforce Development said the technology places Challenger in the highest echelon of maritime training organisations in the world.

"They bring the ports of the world to Fremantle and will be used to teach future shipmasters, officers and engineers how to navigate and operate in a range of environments using these simulated port and ship databases," said Redman.

"In Western Australia demand is growing for specialised maritime skills to service the growing offshore oil and gas industry.

"Technology and innovation must be an integral part of training if we are to continue to produce industry-ready people," he said.

Harris said the new simulators would complement the current training offered at Challenger’s School of Maritime, which delivers courses ranging from commercial fishing and marine tourism to marine operations and engineering.

"The scope for Challenger to provide commercial short courses, using the maritime simulation equipment, has also now grown significantly," she said.


The national headquarters of Survitec Australia recently hosted a visit by Dr Mike Kelly, Federal Minister for Defence Materiel.

Survitec supplies equipment to the Australian Army, Air Force and Navy.

Kelly praised the work being undertaken by Survitec and the support staff. "The people here are doing a crucial job that keeps our service men and women safe," he said. "I am highly impressed by the quality of Survitec’s liferafts and survival systems."

Kelly inspected key areas of the operation, including where pressure tanks used by Navy divers are tested, a lab dedicated to servicing sonar equipment and workshops where Navy liferafts and Marin-Ark systems are tested, serviced and repacked before being deployed back into operational vessels.


The role of state manager at AMI Marine’s QLD branch has been taken on by Peter Byrne.

With a long history in the marine industry, Byrne commenced working with AMI Marine in 2000. In 2010 he was made GM at AMI’s water treatment systems provider WETSS. He will continue his duties at WETSS in addition to his new role as AMI’s QLD state manager.

Originally published in Trade-a-Boat #444, September/October 2013.

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