SeaLink expands with Captain Cook takeover

South Australian-based tourism and transport company SeaLink Travel Group has purchased well-known Sydney-based tourism business Captain Cook Cruises. The acquisition will add more than $30 million to SeaLink’s total annual revenue and take it to more than $110 million per annum.

Established in 1970, Captain Cook Cruises became Sydney’s first privately-owned tourism ferry in Circular Quay. Today, the small-ship cruise operator has a fleet of 15 vessels that carry more than 750,000 passengers each year in Sydney Harbour and along the Murray River. This includes the paddle steamer Murray Princess. The company offers a choice of more than 150 cruises weekly throughout Australia.

Captain Cook Cruises employs up to 300 people — all of whom are expected to be retained under the new ownership. The deal makes SeaLink one of the largest employers in the tourism industry with more than 750 staff across Australia and New Zealand, and will carry around 2.4 million customers a year.

Chairman of SeaLink Travel Group, Giuliano Ursini said the acquisition of this iconic Australian tourism brand will support SeaLink’s vision of showcasing Australasia’s icons and landscapes to the world and is perfectly aligned to SeaLink’s national and international growth strategy.

“This will be an ideal strategic fit to SeaLink Travel Group’s growing tourism operations and will bring us access to the Australian gateway of Sydney, where we see significant cross-sell opportunities with our combined brands and customers. It is the coming together of two respected and complementary tourism operators who have so much to offer visitors,” said Ursini.

“Captain Cook Cruises has been in operation for more than 40 years, under Captain Trevor Haworth, who himself is a tourism industry icon in Sydney.

“It is a market leader on both the Sydney Harbour, with its range of small ship cruises, and on the River Murray, with the popular Murray Princess.

“It also enjoys excellent relationships with inbound tour operators, overseas and domestic wholesalers, local Australian travel agents, the Government and tourism authorities.

“This acquisition will herald the most exciting growth period in SeaLink’s 22-year history and help sets the future course for our company. In March this year, SeaLink acquired the Sunferries operation in Townsville as another major part of its growth strategy.

“Sydney Harbour is a mecca for international and national tourists with Captain Cook Cruises carrying around 750,000 passengers a year. SeaLink is now in a prime position to tap into this demand and connect major tourism icons such as Sydney Harbour, Kangaroo Island and the Murray River, and build packages and touring routes to bring these customers through NSW, Victoria and into South Australia.

“It is also particularly pleasing that we will be able to secure the Murray Princess, which is such an important vessel for tourism in South Australia,” he said.

Capt Haworth, founder of Captain Cook Cruises said he was pleased that a company with a similar culture would be acquiring the business.

“As a family business, we have always placed enormous value on our staff, customer and business relationships and it’s very satisfying to know SeaLink shares these same values,” said Haworth.

“SeaLink is the ideal tourism business to add further investment and grow this business even further,” he said.

The Haworth family will continue its association with Captain Cook Cruises with Haworth’s son Anthony taking on the role of general manager, and daughter Jackie Haworth-Charlton remaining as sales manager.

The acquisition includes the related infrastructure, marina berths and licenses for Captain Cook Cruises, but excludes the company’s Fiji operations.

1). The Murray Princess is now South Australian.

2- Sydney 2000 is one of the 15 vessels included in the acquisition.

New boats for WA fisheries research
Western Australian fisheries research will be boosted by two new, locally-built research vessels.

RV George Cassells, an 8.5m inboard powered vessel was built by SRM Marine at Dongara at a cost of almost $350,000. SRM is known as the builder of the aluminium Blackfin Boats range.

RV Snipe Two, built from aluminium by Preston Craft in Wangara for $168,000, is 7.4m long, has a beam of 2.5m and draws 0.36m. It is powered by twin 115hp four-stroke Yamaha outboards.

The boats were officially named by Fisheries Minister Norman Moore, who said they would provide greater flexibility to Department of Fisheries’ research activities.

“The new boats will support research, assessment and monitoring projects in the West Coast and South Coast Bioregions,” said Moore. “This work is vital to ensure our fisheries are managed in a sustainable way and management decisions are informed by quality science.”

Built to replace its 27-year-old predecessor, RV Snipe Two can be easily towed behind a four-wheel-drive, giving substantial flexibility for its use between Shark Bay and Esperance.

The RV George Cassells is based at Fremantle for work in metropolitan waters and the West Coast Bioregion. It was named in honour of a former researcher who worked for the department for more than 33 years before retiring in 2006.

Spanish shipbuilder wins further Government work
The Federal Government has agreed to purchase 12 medium-sized fast landing craft from Spanish shipyard Navantia under a direct source contract. Designated as the LCM-1E, the vessels will be deployed on the Royal Australian Navy’s new Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) ships.

Navantia is building the hulls of the LHDs and is also the design authority for the RAN’s new Air Warfare Destroyers, for which it is building a number of hull blocks.

The 23.3m by 6.4m watercraft will enable transport of troops and equipment from the LHDs to the shore, including where there are no fixed port facilities. They are powered by two MAN D-2842 LE 402X engines each developing 809kW with two waterjets. The LCM-1E can achieve a top speed of 22kts and has a maximum range of 190 nautical miles at economic speed.

The delivery of the first batch of the four landing craft will be co-ordinated with the delivery of the first LHD, expected in 2014.

Navantia says the 12 vessels will be built entirely by it and be identical to those delivered to the Spanish Navy between 2007 and 2008. It estimates the project will involve 350,000 labour hours.

According to Navantia’s CEO, Luis Cacho: “…the announcement is another step towards Navantia positioning itself as a strategic partner with Australia looking forward to their future programs. We recently opened a subsidiary in Australia, which shows our commitment to the country.”

Cacho recently travelled to Australia to discuss the watercraft agreement and possibilities for cooperation in future naval programs announced by the Australian Department of Defence.

Maintenance and support for the watercraft will be provided by Australian industry.

3). LCM-1E is in use with the Spanish Navy. (Spanish Ministry of Defense photo)

Aboriginal name for NZ-built cat
The newest boat for cleaning Sydney Harbour may be named after a uniquely Australian creature but its build heritage is from across the Tasman.

Mallagongan, an Aboriginal name for the platypus, was chosen as the name for the NSW Maritime vessel in a competition by Sydney primary school students. However, the aluminium harbour-cleaning vessel was actually built in New Zealand after boatbuilder Q-West won the NSW Government tender to build it with an offer of approximately $1.9 million. It’s not all bad news for Australian industry though — the design of the 16.3m catamaran comes from Sydney naval architecture firm One2Three.

As the new flagship of NSW Maritime’s Environmental Services fleet, Mallagongan, will work year-round clearing debris from the harbour. To do this, debris and rubbish is skimmed from the water with a special water-jet assisted litter capture cage between the catamaran’s hulls. This cage is deployed and retrieved through a moonpool in the spacious working deck aft of the wheelhouse. The vessel is also fitted with a deck crane.
The 7m wide catamaran is powered by a pair of 450hp Caterpillar C12 diesels driving five-bladed propellers via Twin Disc Quickshift gearboxes.

4 & 5). The Mallagongan is the new flagship of NSW Maritime’s Environmental Services division. (Photos by David Clare)

Australian technology a winner in UK competition
West Australian research and development company Nauti-Craft’s marine-suspension is one of 13 concepts selected from a field of more than 450 international entrants in the UK Carbon Trust’s Offshore Wind Accelerator R&D initiative focused on strengthening the economics of offshore wind generation.

The initiative aims to identify and develop new access systems to dramatically improve the availability of wind turbines and the safety of people during the transfer to turbines.

Nauti-Craft says its marine-suspension technology provides improved comfort and stability of the deck/superstructure of a vessel through the use of a novel passive-reactive interconnected suspension system that supports the deck above multiple hulls. For the offshore wind farm industry, the technology is said to improve safety for crew transfers, increase passenger comfort, reduce structural loading, improve fuel efficiency, and enable greater speed to the work location.

Benj Sykes, director of innovation at the Carbon Trust said: “We’ve trawled the globe looking for revolutionary new ideas that can transfer engineers safely in the huge swells around the UK’s coasts.

“People have been building boats for thousands of years, but we’ve seen some truly radical departures from what you would think a boat should look like. These designs could significantly improve the economics of offshore wind and keep our engineers safe far out to sea,” he said.

Nauti-Craft is a small skunkworks-style R&D team experienced in taking radical new concepts from proof-of-concept stage to commercially viable prototypes.

The creators of Nauti-Craft include the inventor/founder Chris Heyring and other core members of Kinetic, an automotive suspension technology company. Suspension systems developed by Kinetic have been used by Mitsubishi motorsport in Paris Dakar rally campaigns and by Citroen’s World Rally Championship winning team. Kinetic systems are now fitted as original equipment to the current Toyota LandCruiser and Prado, and Nissan Patrol, and have recently been incorporated into the one of the world’s most advanced supercars, the McLaren MP4 12C.

6). Nauti-Craft’s 30m wind farm vessel concept.

7). An 8m prototype has already undergone sea trials.

Peak performance from Kilimanjaro III
According to builder Richardson Devine Marine (RDM) the latest fast-ferry to emerge from its long-term collaboration with design firm Incat Crowther “blitzed sea trials and exceeded performance expectations”.

Kilimanjaro III is the flagship of the Coastal Fast Ferries fleet in Tanzania and the latest delivery from the Hobart-based shipbuilder. It follows on from the 26m ferry Cat Cocos – Isle of La Digue and 28m workboat Straitshooter and joins Kilimanjaro and Kilimanjaro II which RDM delivered in July 2009 and August 2010 respectively.

RDM says the success of Kilimanjaro and Kilimanjaro II on the popular East African route between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar meant their owner took little time deciding that it was time for Kilimanjaro III.

The latest ferry is a larger, faster and more versatile evolution of the owner’s previous two Incat Crowther-RDM vessels.

RDM director Toby Richardson has made numerous trips to Tanzania to discuss and assess the owner’s needs. With many years experience building ferries with business partner Ron Devine, and understanding the dynamics of a successful ferry service, Richardson was able to offer some valuable advice in both the operation and design of the new craft.

Paying particular attention to the passenger profile and the weather and sea conditions experienced between Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, Richardson suggested some radical changes to the earlier design to offer more speed, better seakeeping and more comfort for the passengers. RDM also developed a more streamlined approach to luggage handling and movement of passengers on and off the vessel to reduce turnaround times.

Richardson’s hand-drawn sketches were faxed from Dar es Salaam to Incat Crowther’s Sydney offices. There the design team converted them to a recognisable format suitable for presentation. The owner was quick to embrace the vision and soon after, contracted RDM to build his third vessel. He joins a growing group of RDM repeat customers.

The 38.1m by 10.5m catamaran carries up to 548 passengers on three levels, offering an impressive level of comfort and luxury with superb viewing from all seats. The passenger capacity is larger than any other vessel on the Zanzibar–Dar es Salaam route and the extra size makes it more suitable for the the more rugged offshore run to the Island of Pemba. Furthermore, according to Incat Crowther Kilimanjaro III carries more passengers at less cost per-passenger to the operator, taking further advantage of the operation’s revenue-making potential.

The economy class passengers are certainly not deprived of much, if anything. They are seated in leather reclining seats with full air-conditioning, a kiosk with a table seating area, and expansive, full wraparound views from the large tinted windows. First class passengers on the mid-deck enjoy a luxurious seating arrangement utilising huge, comfortable reclining leather seats complete with leg support.

All of the interior seats are supplied by George Eknes of Norway. Outdoor seating from Beurteaux Australia is provided on the open upper deck as well as on the awning covered aft mid-deck, where passengers are still able to be entertained via a 55in outdoor television. Additional bench seating is provided on the bow and across the stern to maximise capacity.

The wheelhouse is a spacious area with wraparound visibility. There are three Beurteaux helm seats and access to wing control stations.

A pair of Cummins KTA50 M2 engines, each rated to produce 1800hp at 1900rpm, give a lightship speed of 31.5kts and a service speed of 30kts. Trials demonstrated the ferry could operate at 29kts at 77 per cent MCR. Propulsion is with conventional propellers, and three Cummins gensets are onboard.

8). The Pride of Tanzania, the new Kilimanjaro III flagship.

9). The new ferry is powered by twin 1800hp Cummins KTA50 M2 engines, for a service speed of 30kts.

Liferaft Systems defies export barriers
Liferaft Systems Australia (LSA) has defied export gloom, starting the latest financial year with new contracts worth $4.5 million signed in the first month alone. These will see the Hobart-based firm supply its marine-evacuation systems to companies in the USA and UK.

Managing director Mike Grainger said he was pleased to secure the contracts given current global economic conditions and the strong Australian dollar.

“The foreign exchange rate is working against us and the global economy is struggling, but the demand for our product remains high,” said Grainger. “I am particularly proud of the fact that 100 per cent of our products are designed and manufactured for a global market right here at our manufacturing facility in Derwent Park, Hobart.”

LSA will provide 18 inflatable slides and 54 inflatable liferafts to five separate companies under the contracts secured during July alone. Delivery dates vary between December 2011 and December 2013.

“In addition to the new contracts we have secured, we are currently supplying marine evacuation systems to Incat here in Tasmania, the Dutch Navy, the US Navy and for a superyacht under construction in Germany,” said Grainger. “It is a very good position for our business, with contracts until December 2014.”

LSA exports 95 per cent of its systems to customers overseas. It employs 55 people in Hobart and operates offices in the US and Europe.

10). Tassie company LSA says international demand remains strong for its inflatable slides and liferafts.

Orion fleet doubles
The fleet of Sydney-based Orion Expedition Cruises has doubled with the introduction into service of Orion II.

The long-term charter of a second purpose-built ship able to access remote regions in comfort is a further step to fulfilling the company’s original vision to have Orion Expedition Cruises regarded as the operator of choice in the Asia Pacific.

Orion founder and managing director Sarina Bratton commented: “Orion II represents another step on a journey that has included many fascinating destinations since Orion’s first expeditionary voyage from Tahiti to Australia in March 2005. Despite difficult global financial conditions, our growth has been solid and this has been enhanced by the support of our loyal guests.”

Originally launched as Renaissance Four (later Clelia II), Orion II was re-launched in 2009 after an extensive €13 million refurbishment, with emphasis on technical enhancements and upgraded environmental systems. The ship completed a further scheduled dry-dock maintenance overhaul plus additional cosmetic enhancements and soft-furnishing redecoration to bring her fully into the Orion style prior to the christening.

The all-suite ship accommodates just 100 passengers in 50 cabins and, with a crew of 70, is intended to provide a private yacht-like experience. Each suite affords ocean views and is appointed with a sitting area or separate living room.

The ship’s passenger amenities include a library with Internet access, two lounges with audiovisual facilities, gym/spa, beauty salon, boutique, medical centre, dining room, two sundecks, Jacuzzi and swimming platform.

The ship was formally christened in Seattle, USA in June, with Bratton joining crew and guests at the ceremony.

Orion II allows us to expand our adventures with a range of exciting luxury expeditions stretching from the Russian Far East to Antarctica,” said Bratton. “This is not growth for the sake of growth. We are expanding in order to meet the demand from past guests and new guests who seek stimulating adventures exploring paths less travelled.”

Somewhat unusually Bratton chose not one but three women to be the ship’s godmothers. Together they represented the most travelled females on Orion — Jill Bennette, Laurel Norris and Shirley Turtle. Between them they have travelled on more than 50 voyages aboard Orion.

Shortly after the christening the ship undertook its maiden voyage for the Australian company — a 24-night passage from Vancouver, Canada to Otaru, Japan via Alaska. This was followed by expeditions to the Russian Far East, Inland Sea of Japan and the Ryuku Islands, with Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam following.

11). Meeting tourism demand, Orion II is the second expedition liner for Sydney-based Orion Expedition Cruises.

Dr Michael Munz has been appointed Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of MTU Detroit Diesel Australia, and will assume his place as a member of the board.

A qualified mechanical and industrial engineer, Dr Munz has previously held various financial, management and leadership roles with Daimler AG in Germany and Portugal.

He was most recently CFO and Head of Human Resources and General Administration at Mitsubishi Fuso Truck Europe (a subsidiary company of the Daimler group) and has previously held finance, process reengineering and project management positions with Evo Bus (Daimler Buses).

“We are thrilled to have Dr Munz onboard as CFO and believe that he will be a key element in our long-term sustainable business strategy,” said Rob Sisk, CEO and president, MTU Detroit Diesel Australia.

Dr Munz took up his new position in early October and is based in the Sydney office.

No regrets after working for 6000 hours
In early 2007, Matthew Creek, a professional fisherman operating out of Bermagui on the NSW South Coast, became the first commercial operator in Australia to install a Yanmar 6HYM diesel. Nearly five years, and 6000 engine hours later, he’s still happy he did.

Back then, Creek knew the time had come to replace the 14lt V8 diesel in his Randell 48 Marcello (pictured). The engine had already been rebuilt twice and the same old problems were beginning to resurface. Of course, it wasn’t the only thing he knew.

“At the time, I was well aware that no one in Australia had installed the Yanmar 6HYM-ETE before me,” said Creek.

“All I could do was look at the engine specifications, compare and then depend on Yanmar’s first-rate reputation in the commercial marine engine field.

“I had some discussion with some blokes that know a lot about marine engines and they reassured me I was making the right decision to go with a Yanmar. I was greatly influenced by Domenic Puglisi who fitted the earlier Yanmar 6KYM model into his trawler some years before,” he said.

The repower was undertaken by Craig Hurst at Bermagui and the engineroom was stripped right back to a bare shell. In addition to a new engine, the Randell benefitted from a re-wire, new hydraulics and a new MASE I.S. 7 genset.

With the use of a ZF down-angle transmission, the existing shaft and prop were retained but the engine ended up being slightly farther forward in the hull.
Fast forward to today and Creek knows a lot more about his 600hp engine.

“The Yanmar delivers on all counts. It has the right amount of power; it’s the right weight and has excellent fuel economy for the job,” Creek says. “Now after 6000 hours on the clock and some four years in service, I couldn’t be happier with the decision to choose the Yanmar over the others.”

Marcello typically runs at 11kts or about 1600rpm, with plenty of throttle still left in reserve if needed. At that pace it uses 18lt/h.

“Since the repower, I have used up to 100lt of fuel less every day that I go to sea. That’s a saving of about $20,000 in fuel a year,” Creek said.

“Another significant benefit for me is the service interval on the Yanmar 6HYM-ETE is 500 hours. I used to have to change the oil and filters in my previous engine every 250 hours, so now I can stay operating for double the time before having to do any service work,” he said.

Michael Blair, national marine sales manager for Yanmar distributor Power Equipment, stated that since Creek’s commitment to be the first purchaser in Australia, the 6HY series has proven to be a remarkable success story for his company and the many owners using it.

“In fact, we now have several units in trawler and passenger-ferry applications with more than 15,000 hours of operation, with absolutely no faults reported to date,” said Blair. “These units still impress their owners on a daily basis, not only with the low fuel usage being achieved but the fact that oil leaks, regular maintenance and downtime are a thing of the past for them.”

12). A Yanmar repower equates to a fuel saving of 100lt per day for the Randell 48 fishing boat Marcello.