Commercial marine news



Australia’s largest-ever warship arrived in Australia in October. The hull of the first of two Landing Helicopter Docks (LHD) has been transported from Spain to Australia by the heavy-lift ship Blue Marlin.

The Canberra Class LHDs are bigger than Australia’s last aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne, with the hull measuring 230m long and 32m across the beam.

Construction of LHD 01 began in September 2008. The first three blocks were laid down in September 2010 and the hull was launched in February 2011.

The hull was constructed in Spain by shipbuilder Navantia and took around nine weeks to complete the 13,000nm voyage to Australia. It was subsequently unloaded and moved by tug to the BAE Systems’ Williamstown dockyard for consolidation of the superstructure and other critical fit-out work.

BAE Systems is the prime contractor for the LHD project and is managing the overall project in cooperation with subcontractors Navantia, Saab, and L-3 Communications.

BAE’s director maritime, Bill Saltzer said preparation works were complete a number of weeks before the hull arrived.

“In the last few months, works have proceeded at a rapid pace as we prepare for the arrival of the first hull,” he said.

“Construction, outfitting and consolidation of the four sections of the superstructure is continuing in the Williamstown yard and this includes the mast modules fabricated at the BAE Systems yard at Henderson in Western Australia.

“Preparation works have also included a multimillion-dollar upgrade to Nelson Pier, where the ship will be docked. Most recently as part of the preparation for the arrival, one of the largest permanently-based cranes in Australia has been assembled on Nelson Pier,” Saltzer said.

The first section of superstructure to be lifted will weigh approximately 300 tonnes and to a height of approximately 25m.

“This is an exciting time for BAE Systems as the prime contractor for this project. We are about to start the next phase of its construction, which will take it through to completion on Australian soil,” said Saltzer.


Coral Princess Cruises (CPC) has been fined $180,000 following the death of a crewman while working on the Oceanic Discoverer in 2009.

The company was found to be non-compliant with the relevant OH&S Act in Cairns Magistrates Court on October 30. It was also non-compliant with the Navigation Act 1912 and the Code of Safe Working Practice for Australian Seafarers.

The sentencing follows a three-year investigation by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA). It found the engineroom's powered sliding door that crushed the man didn't meet international standards.

AMSA also found the company failed to properly train crew in correct use of the door.

The Oceanic Discoverer was at port in NZ when the incident occurred in February, 2009. The man was trapped by the door before electricity was shut down and he was freed. He died from his injuries three weeks later.

AMSA also said CPC failed to take all reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of an employee. As the ship’s operator, it also failed to comply with the door manufacturer’s requirements for inspection, maintenance and safety warnings and to include these in its Safety Management System.


Mermaid Marine Australia has been awarded a contract with Santos Limited in respect of the Mermaid Ranger for the provision of offshore marine support to Modec Venture 11 (MV 11) floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) facility in the Carnarvon Basin.

The contract is for a term of two years firm, with three 12-month options, and is due to commence in March 2013. Mermaid Ranger is a 40m offshore support vessel built in 2007 and purchased by MMA in 2010.

The contract value is approximately $15 million for the firm period, with further upside should the options be exercised.

The MV 11 FPSO services the Mutineer-Exeter fields and will also service the Fletcher Finucane fields once developed. The Finucane South-1A discovery underpinning the Fletcher Finucane project was made in May 2011 and is located approximately 7km to the south of the Fletcher oil field and 16km east of the MV 11 FPSO at Mutineer-Exeter. The project involves the development of a three-well sub-sea tie back to MV 11 FPSO.

MMA managing director, Jeff Weber said: “We are extremely pleased to continue our working relationship with Santos on the North West Shelf. A key part of our ongoing strategy is to work with quality operators supporting their production facilities through vessels linked to our supply base. The Santos MV 11 FPSO operation fits perfectly into that strategy and MMA looks forward to working with Santos to make the operation safe and successful.”

Mermaid Ranger will service the Santos MV 11 FPSO operation on the North West Shelf for the next two years with extension options.


Austal has expanded its capability in Darwin through the acquisition of Hydraulink NT and its associated business KM Engineering (HKME).

HKME is a leading engineering service provider in northern Australia with well-established operations supporting the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. HKME also has strong relationships with oil and gas sector participants.

Austral CEO, Andrew Bellamy said the acquisition signals Austal’s ongoing support to RAN and Customs and Border Protection operations.

“With HKME, Austal presents a robust capability tailored to supporting the Austal-built Armidale Class Patrol Boat fleet and the forthcoming Cape Class Patrol Boat fleet,” he said.

Bellamy added that the acquisition addresses the needs of the US Navy, with whom Austal has contracts to build Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) and Joint High Speed Vessels (JHSV).

“Darwin is critical to Austal’s long-term strategy of supporting US Navy operations, particularly as it relates to LCS and JHSV operations. We expect to see these vessels in the region and want the Navy to know an experienced, professional and competent team is waiting for them. With HKME, Austal can address the unique logistics, maintenance, training and manning requirements of these ships,” he said.

Bellamy said annuity style income from service contracts was becoming an increasingly important component of Austal’s revenue.

“There is also potential for significant growth as a result of HKME’s relationships with oil and gas sector participants. Resource projects, most notably INPEX’s $33 billion Ichthys LNG development, are forecast to generate considerable demand for our skills,” he said.


The Gardline Group, through its subsidiary Gardline Australia, has entered into a joint venture with Tasmanian-based Asia Pacific Maritime Institute/PIVOT Maritime International.

Gardline is a marine science and technology company operating a fleet of oceangoing survey ships specialising in the provision of seabed investigation and government-support activities.

Based in Perth, Gardline Australia provides the vessels Triton and Ashmore Guardian (below) under contracts to Australian Customs Service.

Asia Pacific Maritime Institute/PIVOT Maritime International is a maritime consulting, training and simulation company specialising in resolving complex shipping and port development challenges.

Although details were not released, Gardline said the joint venture enables it "to grow its footprint in Australasia and the region and give Asia Pacific Maritime Institute/PIVOT Maritime International access to a range of additional skill sets and assets. The complimentary skill sets enables the JV to address a range of needs and opportunities”.


Listed WA company Neptune Marine Services Limited, in conjunction with Bhagwan Marine, has won a five-year contract, with the potential for a further two-year extension, to supply a newbuild shallow-water dive-support vessel to Apache Energy.

The vessel to be built is a 56m DP2 hybrid catamaran, with permanent air diving and survey capability. It will operate off the North West of WA, with operations expected to commence in October 2013. Neptune will supply the dive and survey equipment and Bhagwan will provide the vessel. Capital expenditure on the equipment will be funded through Neptune’s existing cash reserves.

Neptune CEO, Robin King said the contract was a great endorsement of Neptune’s capabilities and in line with its strategy of expanding service offering through strategic relationships and pursuing long-term contracts with key operators.

“We are very pleased to have been awarded this contract from Apache, who is a significant long-term client,” he said.

“Our collaboration with Bhagwan demonstrates the success of our strategy of developing alliances with complementary service providers in our key geographical regions,” King said.

Sydney-based Incat Crowther has been contracted to design the vessel and has worked in collaboration with Bhagwan Marine and Neptune Marine Services to develop a first-of-type, fully-integrated catamaran dive-support vessel.

Built in steel, the catamaran has been designed from the keel up to perform six key roles: dive support, geophysical survey, geotechnical survey, cargo transport, hyperbaric rescue, and safety standby.

“With such a varied array of operational roles, unique solutions were required not only in the allocation of spaces but also with the specification of a flexible, high-redundancy propulsion system,” said Incat Crowther managing director, Brett Crowther.

The result is an advanced propulsion and powering package that will integrate a pair of Schottel STP 550 azimuthing drives. The vessel will be fitted with four gensets made up of two Cummins QSK38-Ms and two QSK19-Ms.

An advanced power-management system will make optimal use of the four generators and a battery bank to ensure each power source is used in the most effective way. The battery bank will store enough power to propel the ship for short periods. The vessel will have a top speed of 13.5kts.

The Schottel drives combine with a pair of dropdown azimuthing bowthrusters and a Kongsberg control system to give the vessel DPS-2 manoeuvrability. The innovative system lends itself to the shallow-draft dive operations the vessel will specialise in, as the forward azimuthing thrusters are able to maintain operation as tunnel thrusters when retracted.

“Unlike any other vessel of its size and type, this vessel will have all dive equipment designed and built in from the outset. A dedicated dive control room will be fitted with a pair of decompression chambers, with a hull compartment directly below dedicated to support equipment such as compressors and dive gas storage tanks,” said Crowther.

A pair of diver launch and recovery systems is to be fitted starboardside, while a separate launch-and-recovery system is to be fitted to port for ROV operations.

The aft main deck has 160m² of cargo space and accommodation cabins in the hull and mid-deck for a complement of 44.


Australia’s largest specialised defence shipbuilding organisation, ASC, has welcomed the appointment of Bruce Carter as its new chairman. He succeeds former Vice Admiral Chris Ritchie, who concluded his three-year term at the end of September.

Carter has served as a director on the ASC board since early 2010 and has a strong business background, both in private practice and across a range of government and private sector advisory and governance roles. He is a consultant and founding parter of Ferrier Hodgson in Adelaide and formerly a partner at Ernst & Young.

“I am looking forward to continuing the good work achieved by the company toward building a strong national shipbuilding capability,” said Carter.

“ASC has achieved a great deal since it was established in 1985 as the Australian Submarine Corporation and it continues to consolidate its reputation as an industry leader.

“The company is entering an exciting phase, with the transition to the new In Service Support Contract for submarine maintenance, the start of consolidation of the first of three AWDs, and the challenges and opportunities presented by the future submarine program.

“These all present unique and exciting challenges for ASC and its more than 2300 employees,” he said.


Operating a 35m passenger ship through environmentally pristine waters brings with it significant responsibility. So when the engines aboard Coral Princess were due for replacement, the environmental footprint was just as important as the performance data.

Coral Princess is a nature-based cruise vessel operating eco and expedition cruises of up to seven nights on the Great Barrier Reef, 10-night expeditions on the Kimberley coast and 11-night Cape York and Arnhem Land expeditions between Cairns and Darwin. The vessel is part of the Coral Princess Cruises fleet, pioneer of small-ship cruising in Australia and the South Pacific and a leader in its field for almost 30 years.

The 730-tonne Coral Princess has 27 cabins for passengers plus a crew of 12 and was purpose-built for company founder and managing director Tony Briggs in 1988. It typically logs some 3000 engine hours each year. After 24 years of service, with a few major engine rebuilds along the way, it was time for a complete repower.

“I had worked on them (Yanmar engines) years ago, and I asked around the industry and liked what I was hearing about the brand," said Briggs.

“An important factor for our application at Coral Princess Cruises was the ability to support the product in the remote regions of Australia in which the ship operates. The Power Equipment people have an enviable reputation for product support and demonstrated their ability to back the Yanmar product for us,” he said.

The engine selected was the Yanmar 6AYM-WET. The inline six-cylinder diesel has a displacement of 20.39lt and a continuous rated power output of 755hp (555kW) at 1840rpm. Engine weight, without the gearbox, is 2365kg.

Extensively used in heavy-displacement workboats the 6AY Series is, according to Power Equipment, also quickly gaining an excellent service history and reputation in many high-speed applications such as ferries, patrol craft and cray fishing boats.

The Coral Princess catamaran design facilitated the installation of a single Yanmar 6AYM-WET engine in each hull. Two ZF 2350 Series island-mounted 4:1 ratio transmissions were also installed and mated to the existing propeller shafts.

The existing five-blade Kamome 1400mm diameter propellers were repitched to match the new propulsion package and Centa Transmissions Sydney was commissioned to take care of the torsional vibration calculations. Subsequently, a new Centex highly flexible torsional coupling was supplied to complete what was a total engineered propulsion solution.

Space bonus

“Quite apart from the convenience offered, and the increase of engineroom space facilitated by the inline six-cylinder design compared to the original V12 engines that were removed, we were attracted also to the simple, uncomplicated service regime and extended service intervals of 500 hours,” said Briggs. “These engines are IMO Tier II compliant and have a mechanical injection and governor system, which also appealed to me.”

Vibration reduction was a key objective for Coral Princess Cruises when this repower study was undertaken by Power Equipment’s North Queensland area manager, Nick Marsden. After consultation with the Yanmar factory the
decision was made to supply a full factory packaged and Yanmar warranted resilient mount solution, one that had only ever been used in the domestic Japanese market previously.

This was the first time that these new Yanmar YT21 engine mounts had been used in Australia on this engine model and Power Equipment’s Michael Blair said the results have not disappointed.

“The final result has seen noise and vibration levels significantly reduced from the original installation, something that has been greatly appreciated by both the crew and passengers alike,” he said.

Sans sound and vibration

Briggs is also pleased, commenting: “Previously it was common practise to run the vessel at reduced engine speeds whenever our guests were in the dining room above the enginerooms, but now we have no such restrictions.

“The crew also have commented that their quarters directly behind the engineroom are much more liveable since the refit. We have achieved supplementary benefits in addition to our prime objective of higher reliability and lower emissions.

“All up, I’m very happy with the decision to repower with the Yanmar commercial marine diesel engines,” he said.


Classification society Det Norske Veritas (DNV) and nine key members of the Australian maritime, port and energy sectors have established a four-month study organised as a Joint Industry Project (JIP). This JIP’s intention is to facilitate the adoption of LNG-fuelled vessels in Australian waters.

The study aims to cover the infrastructure and regulatory requirements as well as the potential benefits and risks
faced by energy majors, ports and ship-owners considering LNG-fuelled vessels. The study concentrates on LNG-fuelled OSVs and tugs plying Australian waters, but the key recommendations developed will be valid for most ship types. Geographically, focus will be on the ports of Dampier, Darwin and Melbourne as points of inclusion.

The JIP is managed by DNV and is cosponsored by DNV along with nine industry parties and authorities, namely the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), BOC Limited (Linde Group), Farstad Shipping, Ports Australia, Rolls-Royce Marine AS, SVITZER Australia, Swire Pacific Offshore Operations (Pte), Teekay Shipping (Australia), and Woodside Energy.

Key obstacles in promoting LNG-fuelled ships will be identified, with an initial consideration of adequate infrastructure and existing regulations; which in Australia is complicated by the diverse state-based legislative schemes. Safety is of utmost importance for such a development and ports will face the challenge of offering safe storage and ship-specific bunkering of LNG. These challenges will also be incorporated in the study.

Project goals include an assessment of the regulatory framework and infrastructure necessary for LNG bunkering at the Federal level and for selected States. By the end of 2012 the JIP will deliver a gap analysis and a map of legal and infrastructural challenges and opportunities. The JIP will also produce internal and external reports covering key areas for improvements as well as recommendations on the direction and steps to be taken in the LNG fuel domain for the benefit of the Australian maritime industry.

This JIP aims to give the required exposure to LNG as a fuel and to provide objective information to be used in subsequent detailed studies in triggered LNG bunkering initiatives, as well as leveraging on the increasing interest in LNG as a marine fuel in the general Pacific region.

Dr Sanjay Kuttan, managing director of DNV’s Clean Technology Centre (CTC) painted the vision behind the initiative: “The convergence of availability of gas, innovative technologies, progressive regulatory measures and visionary leadership will make LNG a major cleaner energy source for power generation, land and sea transportation, petrochemical feedstock and domestic gas a reality in the near future. The team at DNV CTC is honoured to be part of this momentum to fulfil DNV’s purpose in safeguarding life, property and the environment.”


MAN Diesel & Turbo has announced an addition to its engine programme. The D7 high-speed engine (pictured) will deliver between 1500 and 5000kW at 1000 to 2000rpm and is designed to serve a broad range of applications.

The company states that the D7 will close the gap between its smallest medium-speed and largest high-speed engines and sets new standards in fuel efficiency, power-weight ratio and TBO-intervals.

According to the company, the D7 is characterised by its robustness, efficiency, compactness and strength. MAN Diesel & Turbo has targeted tugs, workboats, offshore service and supply vessels, navy patrol boats, superyachts and fast ferries as its core applications. The new engine will additionally serve non-marine markets such as the offshore, onshore power generation and rail segments. It will also be available as a gas-powered version for certain applications.

The D7 will play a central role in a new propulsion train devised by MAN Diesel & Turbo. Customers will be offered the engine as part of a package that includes gearboxes, propellers, switchboards, auxiliary gensets and energy-storage solutions.

Orders for the new engine can be placed from 2014.

Originally published in Trade-a-Boat 434, December 2012,