Austal to move commercial shipbuilding offshore

Shipbuilder Austal has completed a comprehensive review of its operations in Henderson, Western Australia and concluded that they should be refocused towards the manufacture and support of defence vessels. It will pursue opportunities for the design and construction of ferries and other commercial vessels by shifting manufacturing offshore.

The principal findings of the review were:
* Demand in specific segments of the international commercial vessel market (such as fast crew-transfer boats, workboats and 30m to 50m ferries) remains strong and new markets are emerging. Austal’s considerable intellectual property can be directed towards developing products specifically for these markets.
* To be successful in these markets, apart from applying its market-leading intellectual property, Austal will need to regionalise its manufacturing base to enhance competitiveness.
* The market for defence systems opportunities is attractive and has the potential to deliver significant recurrent income. Austal will leverage its existing systems integration capabilities to pursue new opportunities.
* The outlook for commercial and defence vessel service and maintenance is strong and Austal will therefore continue to pursue contracts in this space.

Austal’s Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Bellamy said: “The review confirmed that Austal’s Australian business has considerable engineering and modular manufacturing skills and that coupled with the IP that exists in Henderson, Austal can be Australia’s leading defence prime contractor.

“Through regionalising its manufacturing base, Austal will have the ability to compete effectively in commercial markets, where we have been excluded by the high Australian dollar. Austal has the products and the IP; we just have to get the cost base right,” he said.

The company has not determined a location for its regional manufacturing base and continues to investigate possible opportunities in a number of different countries. It is presently anticipated that a decision will be made by December.

The review had been announced when the company downgraded its profit expectations in May. This, it said, was “a direct consequence of the unprecedented strength of the Australian dollar and its consequent impact on Austal’s Western Australian operations” and “continuing softness in the European commercial ferry market”.

New cat for Church Point service
Aluminium Boats Australia has delivered a new transit ferry for the Church Point Ferry Service, which operates on Sydney’s Pittwater.

The company provides commuters and tourists with hourly departures from Church Point, with four stops on Scotland Island as well as at Morning Bay, Lovett Bay and Elvina Bay. It also carries more than 200 children to school each day as well as delivery newspapers in the morning and mail in the afternoon.

Named L. Duck after long-time employee and boat skipper Lenny Duck, the new ferry is a 12m aluminium catamaran and the first newbuild for the company’s present owners, Penny Gleen and Simon Wastell.

Duck was a skipper for the service for more than 33 years and still holds a very special place in the hearts of the community he once served. Church Point Ferry Service has been in operation since 1940 and services a large number of homes and families, many of which live with water access only to their residences.

L. Duck was designed by One2Three Naval Architects from Sydney and the commissioned specified low speed and minimal fuel consumption in order to offer a more eco-friendly option for the owners and commuters alike. Service speed is 10kts, with propulsion coming from a pair of five-bladed Veem propellers each driven by a John Deere 4045 D diesel.

The catamaran is built to USL Code 1D survey for a maximum of 80 passengers with two crew. Passenger entry points are located forward on both sides. These provide access to an open-plan saloon with purpose-built timber seating and surrounded by extensive windows. The onboard toilet is accessed internally aft.

Penny Gleen said the team at Aluminium Boats Australia had “done a wonderful job building the L. Duck”.
“She is an absolute cracker of a boat, and we are very pleased. The level of finishing is excellent, even down to a garbage bin!” says Gleen. “The paintwork is superb, the floor is perfect; in fact every little detail of the boat looks like care has been taken.”

Aluminium Boats Australia’s general manager Stuart Pascoe, commented: “Our team at ABA in conjunction with One2Three naval architects are very proud of what will be a showcase in commuter ferries for the Church Point region. It has been a pleasure to work so closely with Penny and Simon of Church Point Ferries in the completion of this vessel. A great starting point for more efficient and safer transport for the region.”

Four vie for frigate tender
A tender has been released for a five-year contract for the repair and maintenance of the Royal Australian Navy’s eight ANZAC Class frigates. The contract is worth approximately $300 million.

Four companies or joint ventures have been short-listed to compete for the work — BAE Systems, Babcock/UGL Infrastructure, Thales Australia, and DMS Maritime/Transfield Services.

They were short-listed following an open tender process.

This is the first of the RAN’s new group maintenance contracts to be released for tender. Currently, each maintenance activity is contracted individually to a panel of companies who compete for the work. This reform will end that system and create five-year performance-based contracts for the maintenance and repair of RAN ships.

Minister for Defence Materiel, Jason Clare said reforming the way this work is contracted will provide the Navy and local industry with more certainty.

“This reform provides more security for Australian businesses and more job security for their workforce,” Clare said. “It’s a significant change — ending the burden for industry of bidding for every job.”

Research focus on northern waters
The tropical waters of northern Australia, including Darwin Harbour, will attract even greater research interest as the Northern Territory economy expands, according to the CEO of one of Australia’s leading marine research agencies.

The CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Dr Ian Poiner updated government and business leaders in Darwin about the work of the Northern Australia Marine Research Alliance (NAMRA) in late June. NAMRA is a collaboration between AIMS, Charles Darwin University, NT Government and the Australian National University.

Shortly after the briefing, a team of Australian, Indonesian and Timor Leste marine scientists, departed Darwin Harbour on the 35m AIMS research vessel Solander for an Arafura and Timor Seas Ecosystem Action (ATSEA) research expedition.

Work being carried out by NAMRA in Darwin Harbour includes the classification of the seafloor habitat with high-resolution bathymetric mapping; bio-indicator research; and hydrodynamic and water-quality modelling.

NAMRA partners are also working on NT industry projects in locations such as the southwest Gulf of Carpentaria, Melville Bay and Groote Eylandt.

Poiner said Solander was a valuable platform for the NT marine research.

“As part of the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) around Australia’s continental shelves, a national reference station has been established on a channel marker in the coastal waters approaching Darwin Harbour.

Solander is one of the vessels used in upgrading of the station, to provide a real-time data stream of marine weather and important ocean-water quality measurements. The data is being used for hydrodynamic, sediment and water-quality modelling of Darwin Harbour,” he said.

Solander was also used to deploy IMOS oceanographic moorings that monitor the Indonesian Through-flow. This is a globally significant series of currents that sweep across the seas of northern Australia, linking the Pacific and Indian Oceans and have an impact on the region’s climate.

Valued at more than $1 million, up to 3000m tall and carrying an array of special marine sensors, the moorings were deployed to monitor the Timor Passage and Ombai Strait — two strategic deep-ocean channels, which act as 'chokepoints' in the global system of ocean currents.

Poiner said the ATSEA research expedition was an important tri-nation research expedition.

“The ATSEA research cruise documents some of the high abundance in natural fisheries resources and rich marine biodiversity on submerged shoals off the NW Shelf, as well as measuring the influence of coastal input of sediments and nutrients to southern Timor Leste waters,” explained Poiner. “To manage these vast resources, we require close cooperation between the nations that surround these seas, including Australia, Timor Leste and Indonesia.”

Half Tide takes a Damen duo
Damen Shipyards has delivered the azimuthing sterndrive (ASD) tugs Karloo and Kalarka to Half Tide Marine.

Half Tide Marine, which has previously taken delivery of other new Damen tugs, operates towage services at Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal in Hay Point, Queensland.

The new tugs were built to the highly successful ASD Tug 3111 design, which, in common with most Damen vessels, has been the subject of constant research and improvement. Including Karloo and Kalarka Damen has delivered 20 tugs to the same design.

Wim de Rooy, the Production Manager at Damen’s shipyard in Changde, China, where Karloo and Kalarka were constructed described the ASD Tug 3111 as “a superb example of tugboat design”.

“The tugs are compact, broad, extremely low and offer great stability. A carefully designed superstructure and inward-sloping exhaust uptakes, enable the tugs to work safely, close alongside modern container ships with flared bows. It is an extremely-clean design with clear deck spaces and no superfluous equipment or fittings likely to cause fouling or represent a hazard,” said de Rooy.

The tugs are 30.6m in length overall, with an 11.24m beam and 4.75m draft. They displace just under 600 tonnes. Principal deadweight loads come from tanks for 89.7m3 of fuel, 94.7m3 of water ballast and 28.7m3 of freshwater.

The hullform incorporates a long, deep central skeg and is the result of many years of experience, testing and research into the needs of Damen’s customers. That has resulted in a harbour tug with an ahead bollard pull of 69.3 tonnes and 64.6 tonnes astern, combined with excellent manoeuvrability to enable the tug to reposition quickly and apply force where it is required, whether pushing or pulling.

“When towing in the ‘indirect mode’, considerable additional force can be applied, thanks to precise manoeuvrability and excellent inherent stability,” said Coen Boudesteijn, product director for Tugs & Workboats at Damen.

“The wheelhouse design was developed to give good all-round visibility and standardised controls aimed at ease of operation and a user-friendly layout for operation by a small crew. Noise and vibration levels aboard the ASD Tug 3111 are extremely low thanks to flexibly mounted main engines and flexible drive couplings,” he said.

Providing thrust are a pair of Rolls-Royce US 255 azimuthing drives with 2.6m diameter props and Caterpillar 3516B TA HD/D diesels producing a total of 4180kW. This package results in free-running speeds of 13.5kts ahead and 12.9kts astern. Electrical power generation is covered by two 107kVA Caterpillar C4.4 TA gensets, while the hydraulic system centres around a pair of engine-driven pumps and one electrically-powered pump.

On deck, Ridderinkhof hydraulically-powered single-drum winches are positioned fore and aft. The forward winch incorporates the anchor windlass and has a maximum brake-holding load of 185 tonnes and a line-pull of 27.2 tonnes.

A Heila HLM 10-2S deck crane is installed to handle stores and equipment and has a maximum lifting capacity of two tonnes at a maximum reach of 4.5m.

In order to meet the demands of push-pull operation, the bow is wide and heavily fendered with tubular rubber and moulded block fenders. Tubular rubber is also used to protect the aft quarters and heavy D-section rubber is fitted along the sides.

Fully air-conditioned accommodation is provided for a crew of up to six persons. Single-berth cabins are fitted out for the captain and chief engineer and two double-berth cabins for the remainder of the crew. The entire accommodation is insulated and finished with durable modern linings. In addition, the wheelhouse has a floating floor and Dampa acoustic insulation on the ceiling. Noise levels throughout the accommodation are said to be extremely low.

Wheelhouse equipment includes a Furuno 1934C Navnet radar system; Furuno SC-50 sateliite compass; Simrad Ap-50 autopilot; Sailor RT 4800 and RT 5022 VHF radios; Furuno FS-1570 SSB and Furuno FA-150 AIS.

The tugs are classed by Lloyds Register to ( 100 A1 Tug Australian Coastal Service up to 50nm from the coast ( LMC UMS.

Big Queensland port to get even bigger
North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation Limited (NQBP) is seeking proponents interested in developing additional coal-terminal infrastructure at Abbot Point, which could result in a $6.2 billion expansion of the coal port.

Up to four additional coal terminals could be built, with each providing a nominal capacity of 30 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa). They would be located within the Abbot Point State Development area in close proximity to a deep-water port.

Known as Terminals 4, 5, 6 and 7 (T4-7), they would utilise the proposed Multi Cargo Facility, which is a key piece of infrastructure for the long-term future for the Abbot Point State Development Area.

Allowing for the Expressions of Interest process, planning and design work, and if environmental approvals are gained construction could start in 2015 with the first coal exports from Terminal 4 in 2017.

The most recent expansion of the Abbot Point Coal Terminal to take export capacity to 50 Mtpa, delivered its first coal through the new shiploader earlier this year. That terminal has been leased for 99 years to Mundra Ports.

Preliminary studies are already underway to further expand coal export facilities at the port.

Preferred Developers for Terminals 2 and 3, BHP Billiton and Hancock Coal, were announced in 2010 and are well underway with the design and necessary environmental approvals for the terminals.

Fantasea buys spec ferry
As construction of a 24m catamaran ferry neared completion in Aluminium Marine’s facility in Brisbane, the shipbuilder and the ferry’s designer, Incat Crowther, confirmed it had been sold to prominent Great Barrier Reef operator Fantasea Cruises.

Construction of the ferry was started on speculation in September 2010, with both designer and builder developing a vessel that was flexible in its configuration. It was anticipated that the catamaran could be utilised for either commuter or tour operations, maximising its market appeal.

As structural work proceeded, Aluminium Marine and Incat Crowther were approached by Fantasea Cruises to develop a layout for the vessel that suited their reef tour operation. While structural elements remained unchanged through the process, modifications we made to the interior fitout.

A bar/kiosk was added to the main deck aft, utilising the space under the stairs for storage. Main deck seating was revised to incorporate a mix of forward-facing seats and booths with tables. The upper deck cabin has been fitted out with stylish lounges with occasional tables.

The customisation of the vessel will be topped off with an eye-catching paint job bringing the vessel into line with the Fantasea fleet.

The ferry is to be powered by a pair of Yanmar 6AYM-GTE main engines. It will have a service speed of 26kts, with a top speed of 28kts.

Commenting on the ferry, Incat Crowther’s managing director, Brett Crowther said: “The vessel will set new standards for fuel efficiency, providing good cruising speed with low capital and running expenditure.

“The vessel ushers a new generation of style, giving a contemporary, sophisticated look. Further vessels in same style are also under construction, with announcements due in coming months,” he said.

Mobilarm completes UK acquisition
Mobilarm Limited has completed the acquisition of Marine Rescue Technologies (MRT), the UK company behind the Sea Marshall range of Maritime Survivor Locating Devices.

The acquisition makes the Perth-based marine safety technology specialist the world’s largest man-overboard (MOB) safety company.

“We are pleased to have completed the acquisition of MRT as it will allow us to continue growing our presence in the global offshore oil and gas, defence and commercial marine sectors,” commented Mobilarm CEO, Lindsay Lyon.

“This is another critical milestone for Mobilarm, and with the addition of the Sea Marshall brand to Mobilarm’s product portfolio, we have created the world’s leading man overboard safety company.

“Our focus is to continue growing the business, drawing on the talents of our remarkable workforce. As a unified team, we will address the needs for improved personnel safety in various commercial maritime sectors and regions, through further technology development and strong distribution and sales channels,” he said.

More Awards for Kirby Marine
Kirby Marine, builder of Naiad RIBs in Western Australia, has won two awards in the state’s marine industry awards.

The Naiad 11.3m rescue vessel for VMR Whitford was judged best Light Commercial Vessel. This is a twin-outboard vessel, using the proven 11.3m stepped hull with a rescue/patrol style cabin.

Kirby Marine also won the prestigious Boat Builder of the Year award.

The company is no stranger to awards success, in 2010 its 10m Naiad took out 2010 Boat of the Year along with the Aluminium over 6m category at the WA Marine Awards. This followed on from Kirby Marine taking out the 2009 WA Boat of the Year. In 2008, Kirby Marine also won a Marine Industry Award for Outstanding Contribution Towards Volunteer Marine Rescue Services.

Power Equipment WA appoints new Sales Manager
Power Equipment has appointed Greg Honisett to the position of sales manager for the WA/NT region. In this role, he is responsible for all marine sales within the territory.

Being a native of WA and having spent a lifetime working in the diesel industry, Honisett is well credentialed for the position.

“I grew up in Geraldton and spent a lot of my time as a youth going to sea with my uncle who was a professional fisherman,” said Honsiett. “Ever since those days, I have spent time on the water and have a natural affinity with boats and boating at all levels.”

Honisett is one of a rare breed who has managed to weave his work career and passion together. After a lengthy 25-year stint with a major player in the diesel engine industry, working in a variety of senior management roles, he took redundancy with the onset of the GFC.

Next came a role in the trucking industry. But marine is where Honisett’s expertise and interest lie.

“When the position at Power Equipment cropped up, I pursued it vigorously,” said Honisett. “The Yanmar and JCB brands are first rate. Given my background with diesel products and marine applications, this position could have not been better scripted for me.”

One of Honsiett’s biggest tasks has been to become familiar with the product range.

“Yanmar has a completely different marine and industrial range of diesel engines,” said Honisett. “Where I came from, the one engine did both jobs. And the mechanical diesel technology that remains in the Yanmar range is a decided benefit, when dealing with the customers who still have an affinity with this technology.”

In welcoming Honisett to the Power Equipment family, marine sales manager Michael Blair acknowledged the years of experience and expert knowledge that Honisett brings to the position.

“Greg has a wealth of experience in the marine and industrial sector,” Blair said. “His background and knowledge of the marketplace is invaluable. We’re already seeing the benefits of having Greg Honisett onboard and no doubt in the future, his impact will be even more incisive.”

New Mini-C Terminals for vessel-monitoring applications
Thrane & Thrane has completed development of several new Sailor mini-C terminals, which are based on the recently introduced Thrane & Thrane Sailor 6110 mini-C for GMDSS use. The new Sailor 6140 and Sailor 6150 have both been designed primarily to enable fishing vessels to meet the growing demands for reporting within the structure of national vessel monitoring schemes.

Today, it is mandatory for fishing boats in more than 40 countries, including some Australian fisheries, to carry satellite tracking equipment. In most of these countries Thrane & Thrane is the leading supplier. Since the mid-1990s the company has delivered more than 18,000 Inmarsat-C and mini-C terminals for monitoring solutions all over the world and the next generation Sailor 6140 and Sailor 6150 are based on the experience Thrane & Thrane has in developing innovative satellite-tracking systems.

Thrane & Thrane says the Sailor 6140 and Sailor 6150 provide the reliability and functionality to meet all vessel monitoring requirements including: Data Reporting, Vessel Monitoring System, GeoFencing and Two-Way Messaging. Additionally, the Sailor 6150 also offers Non-SOLAS distress functionality and the reception of EGC messages and SafetyNet/FleetNet, which provides a boost to the safety of vessel and crew.

The 6140 and 6150 terminals are self-contained and sealed, housing both antenna and transceiver. This design approach has proven to be rugged and reliable in commercial fishing applications. A 50-channel GPS module and high-gain omni-directional antenna aid reliable satellite fix and position so that vessels can meet reporting requirements even under adverse conditions.


1). Austal’s WA shipyard will not be producing ferries for much longer.

2). Church Point Ferry Service’s new 12m catamaran ferry L. Duck.

3). One organisation will get a five-year contract to repair and maintain HMAS Toowoomba and seven other ANZAC frigates.

4). Solander prepares to depart Darwin to deploy the IMOS moorings. (Photo by Jed Garland, AIMS).

5). Damen tug Kalarka.

6). Damen tug Karloo.

7). Construction of a 24m catamaran ferry nears completion at Aluminium Marine for buyer Fantasea Cruises.

8). Greg Honisett is Power Equipment’s new sales manager for WA and NT.

9). Thrane & Thrane Sailor 6150 mini-C.