Systemic safety issues in Queensland coastal pilotage operations have been identified in an Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigation report.

The ATSB began an investigation into coastal pilotage operations in December 2010 following the release of its report into the grounding of the piloted tanker Atlantic Blue (pictured top right) in the Torres Strait and a request from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) — the coastal pilotage safety regulator. That report identified safety issues affecting coastal pilotage, indicating that other systemic issues may also exist that would benefit from the ATSB further investigating.

The ATSB’s safety issue investigation found that under the coastal pilotage regulations, no organisation, including the pilotage provider companies, has been made clearly responsible and held accountable for managing the safety risks associated with pilotage operations. This has meant that responsibility for managing the most safety critical aspects of pilotage has rested with individual pilot contractors instead of an organisation that systematically manages safety risk.

The investigation also identified systemic safety issues surrounding pilot training, fatigue management, incident reporting, competency assessment and use of coastal vessel traffic services.

AMSA said it has taken action in response to all of the issues identified by the ATSB, and said
it is on track to finalise the report’s three recommendations by 2013, including assigning overall responsibility of risk management of pilotage to pilotage providers.

AMSA said it had significantly reformed coastal pilotage since the ATSB investigation commenced. Actions AMSA has taken to reform coastal pilotage include:

• July 2011 – release of a new regulation for coastal pilotage – Marine Order 54 strengthening links between pilotage providers and pilots, and introducing standardised industry passage plans for pilotage;

• January 2012 – audit of pilotage providers to ensure that they provide standard operating procedures for conducting pilotage in their Safety Management Systems;

• May 2012 – workshop with pilots, pilotage providers and training organisations to enhance training for pilots and the creation of a new e-learning portal;

• July 2012 – AMSA commenced a review of issue five of MO 54. Part of the review will assign overall responsibility of risk management of pilotage to pilotage providers. Additionally the new Navigation Act 2012, to take effect in January 2013, contains an expanded definition of a “pilotage provider”.

Addressing the report’s recommendation on fatigue, AMSA has finalised a contract to research the impacts of fatigue on two-person pilotage operations on the inner route of the Great Barrier Reef. Ships in pilotage areas currently have one pilot onboard.

The ATSB welcomed AMSA’s response but considers further action is necessary to fully address the safety issues. In particular, the ATSB is recommending that AMSA ensures the coastal pilotage regulations specifically assign responsibility for the safe management of pilotage operations to the pilotage providers or another organisation.

The ATSB has also issued recommendations to the three coastal pilotage providers to take safety action in relation to fatigue management and incident reporting to facilitate action by AMSA.

Following the allowed 90-day period after the issue of its recommendations, the ATSB will reassess the safety risk based on the action taken and proposed by AMSA, and the pilotage providers to address the issues.


The official Oman News Agency has announced that the government-owned National Ferries Company (NFC) has signed a design-and-build contract for two ferries with WA-based shipbuilder Strategic Marine.

Mehdi bin Mohammed al-Abdawani, NFC board chairman said in a statement that selecting Strategic Marine came through an international tender launched by the Tender Board for all specialised international companies.

He added that the construction and delivery of the new ferries will take one full year and will be delivered at the end of 2013. The technical and maintenance group in NFC will directly supervise and follow-up during construction and design. This ensures the build of the ferries is in accordance with the agreed international standards and subject to the international shipping regulations, laws, maritime legislations in the Sultanate and observance of environmental requirements.

The two 45.8m ferries will be built from aluminium to reduce operating costs and will have a maximum speed of 15kts, provided through a quadruple-engine arrangement. The ferries will have three decks, with the main deck allocated for parking trucks and cars. It will accommodate about 38 cars, or 28 cars and four trucks.

The second deck has seating for 154 passengers, while an open upper deck offers an additional option for passengers to enjoy the Middle East sunshine.


An International Fleet Review has been launched by the Chief of the Royal Australian Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs.

From October 3 to 11, 2013, the International Fleet Review will offer a program of naval events to celebrate the centenary of the RAN’s fleet arrival in Sydney Harbour on October 4, 1913.

The program will include: a tall ships parade; warships arrival; ceremonial fleet review; naval gun salutes; fixed wing and helicopter flypasts; aerial acrobatics displays; Sydney Harbour fireworks and light show; ships open to visitors; combined naval march through the streets of Sydney; military band concerts; Freedom of Entry parade in Parramatta; religious and memorial services; and sporting competitions.

Vice Admiral Griggs said the International Fleet Review would be the nation’s most significant commemorative naval event in the past 100 years.

The RAN will be represented by at least 17 ships and submarines from across the Navy. A significant naval aviation component is also planned.

Tall ships from around the world will journey to Australia, visiting Fremantle, Melbourne and Hobart prior to gathering in Sydney and then taking part in a special regatta race to Auckland, New Zealand.

“We are delighted to welcome so many foreign navies and tall ships to Sydney for this exciting event and I thank the Federal and NSW Governments and the City of Sydney for their support. I am sure everyone involved will take away some fantastic memories of their involvement in this very important historic occasion,” said Griggs.


Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke has approved a proposal by GDF SUEZ Bonaparte and its venture partner Santos Offshore to develop the Bonaparte Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) Project subject to 15 conditions.

The Bonaparte floating facility will be located some 250km west of Darwin and will produce and export liquefied natural gas.

This is the second FLNG facility in Australia to be approved.

“My approval follows a rigorous assessment process under national environment law including the opportunity for public comment,” said Burke.

“I have set 15 strict conditions to manage the potential impacts to migratory and threatened species and the marine environment.

“A number of management plans will need to be implemented throughout the development phases and submitted for my approval.

“This includes an Operational Phase Environment Plan, which must be submitted for my approval, to cover the management of discharges and minimise impacts on the marine environment.

“The proponent will also need to implement procedures minimising impacts on whales and dolphins including applying a 500m caution zone between whales and vessels to reduce potential impacts such as vessel strike.

“Importantly, the proponent will be required to adhere to all relevant measures to address the risk of a spill, including capacity to respond to a spill to protect the matters of National Environmental Significance.

“The company will be further required to submit an Operational Scientific Monitoring Program to enable an assessment of any impacts and implement an agreed monitoring program in the event of a spill, with approval conditions imposed on other offshore petroleum projects,” he said.


In a development WA-based shipbuilder Austal says reflects its renewed competitiveness in the international market for small- and medium-sized commercial vessels, the company has secured a new contract for the design and construction of three wind farm support vessels.

The 27m catamarans will be used by UK-based Turbine Transfers to support wind turbine installation and maintenance in European waters. Austal will build them at its shipyard in the Philippines over a period of around nine months, commencing in March 2013.

Commenting on the new contract Austal’s CEO, Andrew Bellamy, said: “Austal decided to pursue the growing market for wind farm boats in mid-2010. Having spent the first year working hard to better understand the market’s expectations, we signed our first contract in July last year.

“During that initial 12-month marketing period we did a lot of research and design development and also confirmed that Austal needed to regionalise its manufacturing base in order to be successful. The company acquired a shipyard in the Philippines last November for that very reason.

“Now, as our contracts demonstrate, Austal has the vessel designs customers want and the right production cost base to successfully leverage that intellectual property. Our strategy has been so successful that the Philippines shipyard now employs over 220 staff, continues to grow and is currently fully utilised into the first quarter of next financial year,” he added.

Bellamy stressed that Austal can still take on further projects and provide prospective clients with high-quality vessels in short time frames. “The capacity and efficiency of our Philippines shipyard means we are still able to meet market demand for vessels delivered in the first half of 2014. We continue to aggressively pursue further projects for wind farm boats, ferries and other commercial vessels,” he said.

This is Austal’s third new project for Turbine Transfers in a little over 15 months. Three 21m cats were ordered in July 2011 and delivered to Europe earlier this year. Construction of a 27m TRI SWATH ordered in January 2012 is nearing completion at the Philippines yard.

Managing director of Turbine Transfers, capt Mark Meade, said his company was using Austal technology to support the next phase of wind farm development, which would see a much larger number of turbines installed farther offshore and in other areas with rougher sea conditions.

“Our experience with Austal to date, including bringing our first three Wind Express catamarans into service, has demonstrated the benefits of Austal’s vast experience and knowledge in all aspects of commercial vessel design, manufacture and support,” said Meade.

“I am pleased to once again work with Austal to develop a further three high-quality wind farm service vessels, which will join our existing fleet that will soon have 30 boats. Our operational knowledge and Austal’s skills will once again combine to deliver better boats to the industry,” he said.


Silverstar Marine has been contracted to provide client representation services for the construction of the boats.

Silverstar Marine’s MD, Simon Knight confirmed: “The scope of work includes regular attendance at the shipyard to assess the progress, ensuring all vessels meet the required standards and also verification of the vessels’ performance during commissioning and sea trials. It also includes review of contract documents and construction drawings.”

This is Silverstar Marine’s third contract with Turbine Transfers, following the four other Austal vessels.

“We continually strive to provide value-added services to our clients and our third contract with Turbine Transfers is testimony to that,” said Knight.

The new Wind Express 27 cats can transport 12 personnel and 10 tonnes of equipment/stores to and from turbines. This includes containerised items on forward and/or aft decks.

Powered by four Caterpillar C18 diesels and propelled and steered by Rolls-Royce Kamewa waterjets, they will be able to operate in excess of 27kts. An Austal integrated monitoring, alarm and control system with touchscreen interface, will be configured so all vessels functions are available from a central location on the bridge.


Three of southern Tasmania’s busiest maritime sites are joining forces to support industry and jobs.

The State’s Minister for Economic Development, David O’Byrne launched the Derwent Maritime Industrial Sites Master Plan in October. It links Prince of Wales Bay, the Domain Slipyard, and Macquarie Point wharves under one strategic vision.

“Tasmania has a rich maritime history — whether in shipbuilding, fishing, aquaculture or research,” said O’Byrne.

“As a small island in a key location, many of our major industries still rely on the sea.

“It’s a real natural Tasmanian strength — and playing to our strengths is exactly what this Government’s economic strategy is all about.

“Prince of Wales Bay, the
Domain Slipyard, and Macquarie Point wharves host some of Tasmania’s biggest and busiest marine industries.

“This master plan gets them pulling in the same direction, when it comes to land use, innovation and strategy — working together to grow jobs and opportunities.

“The Government’s pleased to be supporting our marine industries, by helping bring them together to achieve efficiencies and share ideas,” he said.

The master plan has involved broad consultation with marine stakeholders and proposes an enhanced industrial precinct at Prince of Wales Bay.

O’Byrne also joined Incat’s Kim Clifford to launch the Tasmanian Fast Ferry Museum.

“Incat has become an iconic Tasmanian achiever,” he said.

“This fantastic new attraction celebrates the Clifford family’s years of innovation and success, as well as their contribution to the Tasmanian community and economy.

“Many a marine industry and job has been spawned by Incat’s leadership in the industry.

“We need to celebrate our Tasmanian success stories and present them as an example for other innovative and ambitious Tasmanians to follow,” O’Byrne said.


One of Australia’s leading marine industry figures, Mike Grainger, has been appointed chairman of the world’s major ferry industry body, Interferry, which represents 225 members from 38 countries.

Grainger is MD of Hobart-based marine safety specialist Liferaft Systems Australia (LSA) and also chairman of ferry operator TT-Line.

The Tasmanian Minister for Infrastructure, David O’Byrne congratulated Grainger, saying: “This is a case of outstanding Tasmanian expertise being recognised and valued at the highest level. It’s fantastic to know there’ll be an experienced and respected Tasmanian voice at the very top of the global ferry industry.”

Grainger was appointed TT-Line chairman in February, after many years on the board. He’s also a director on the Tasmanian Development Board and chairman of the Brand Tasmania Council. He has been on the Interferry board for six years.

His company LSA recently celebrated its first 20 years in operation. In September 1992, LSA was formed by a small group of marine industry professionals, who identified the need for a new approach to the design and ultimately the performance of marine evacuation systems (MES).

From small beginnings LSA has grown to be a world leader in its chosen industry. Twenty years on, the unique LSA MES design has been developed and refined. LSA MES is installed on a large number of vessels of all types and sizes carrying passengers and personnel, including conventional and high-speed passenger ferries, military vessels, large private yachts and special-purpose ships.


One of the best-known names in marine electronics, Thrane & Thrane has been made redundant.

Cobham plc, which bought the Danish satcom company earlier this year, has established a new strategic business unit (SBU) — Cobham SATCOM — that combines the Group’s satellite communications businesses into one organisation. Thrane & Thrane has traded as Cobham SATCOM from November, and forms the core of the new SBU.

Led by Thrane & Thrane CEO Walther Thygesen with assistance from a multinational management team Cobham SATCOM is now twice the size of what either foundation business was.

Rebranding of Thrane & Thrane is expected to complete during 2013. In addition to adopting the Cobham SATCOM name and Cobham’s brand, the SATCOM SBU will be rebranding its products throughout 2013.


Caterpillar Marine Power Systems has increased the warranty on Cat Brand Parts used in all marine applications from six months to one year. The warranty covers all parts used in Cat marine engines, Cat marine generator sets, and Cat branded marine control systems and marine transmissions.

The extended coverage applies to all parts sold or utilised in service work on or after June 1, 2012. There will be no additional cost to customers for this significant extension of warranty protection.

Caterpillar Marine Power Systems says it implemented this new warranty policy in response to customer feedback, industry trends and product quality trends.

“Recognising our leading position in the marine market, we felt the time was perfect to reinforce customer confidence in our marine product. We see a variety of warranty terms and conditions from our competition often adding complexity for our customers in doing an apples-to-apples comparison,” commented P. Jaime Tetrault, director of Product Support for Caterpillar Marine Power Systems.

“At Caterpillar, we do not want to hide behind the small print in the warranty statement. We are proud of our parts quality and we are prepared to make a firm commitment to our customers that when you buy from our Caterpillar authorised distributors, we can guarantee you the best quality parts worldwide.

“To reinforce this message, we are proud to offer this warranty extension to our global customers who chose to use original Cat parts,” he said.

David Holt, Caterpillar Marine Parts manager added the challenge in the aftermarket parts business today is in understanding the quality of the product being purchased and the conditions of the warranty offered by the seller.

“Caterpillar has no hidden conditions on our parts — when you buy an original Cat marine part, you now get a full-year parts warranty under the same conditions as our previous six months warranty. We believe this is yet another advantage that sets Caterpillar apart from our competition,” said Holt.

The new Caterpillar marine parts warranty is administered by Cat Distributors worldwide.


Dr Russell Reichelt has been reappointed as chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) for a second five-year term.

As chairman, Dr Reichelt has been involved in a number of major initiatives including the 2009 Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report, which provided an overview of the Reef’s health, highlighting it was at a crossroads and more protection was needed.

Under his leadership, the Reef Guardian stewardship program expanded to include 113,000 students from more than 285 schools as well as 14 Councils.

The agency also strengthened its work with traditional owners, expanded water-quality monitoring, and implemented an extreme weather response program after cyclone Yasi.

Reichelt also supported the concept of a strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef region to examine how multiple pressures from multiple activities are affecting the Reef. It follows the World Heritage Committee expressing concern about the impact of coastal development along the Queensland coast on the marine environment.

He has a strong interest in the Great Barrier Reef — he’s been diving on the Reef since 1968 and graduated with honours in science from the University of Queensland in 1974.

During the 1980s he worked as a research scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science studying coral reef ecology, particularly the crown-of-thorns starfish. He has a PhD in marine science and was CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science for five years.

Reichelt has been a board member for a number of environmental and marine management organisations, and chaired environmental advisory committees. He is an Adjunct Professor at James Cook University and the University of Queensland.

Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke said he was glad Reichelt would continue, saying: “Over the last five years Dr Reichelt has done an exemplary job leading the management of the Great Barrier Reef at a time when it faces a number of challenges.”

Originally published in Trade-a-Boat magazine #436, February 2012