HMAS Darwin

Commercial Marine News


Adelaide-based SeaLink Travel Group has confirmed investment approaching $4 million to upgrade the Sydney Harbour fleet of subsidiary Captain Cook Cruises, which it acquired in 2011. The majority of the expenditure is slated for a new harbour catamaran, already under construction in Tasmania.

The 23.9m long, 7.2m wide Incat Crowther-designed aluminium catamaran is being built by Richardson Devine Marine. It is designed to operate throughout Sydney Harbour.

Incat Crowther said it had worked closely with SeaLink to develop a vessel “that offers exceptional value to the operator, with tangible measures taken to reduce both capital investment and running costs”. In addition to focussing on reducing fuel consumption, machinery selection and systems design has focused on reducing ongoing maintenance costs.

Powered by a pair of Scania DI13 070M main engines, the vessel will operate at a loaded service speed of 22kts, with a top speed of 24kts. Each engine will develop up to 368kW and drive a fixed-pitch propeller.

The catamaran will feature a main passenger cabin with seats for 116 passengers. A further 31 seats are located on the aft deck. Toilets are located adjacent to the stairs to the upper deck. Large hinged engine hatches provide access to the enginerooms for day-to-day maintenance tasks.

Boarding gates are located on the foredeck, with particular attention paid to the visibility of these from the wheelhouse. Behind the wheelhouse, an open upper deck has seats for 51 passengers, with space for passengers to stand and view the sights.

The vessel will be certified to carry 127 passengers in coastal operation (1C survey) and 198 passengers in harbour operation (1D survey).

Incat Crowther said it was pleased to be working with SeaLink on this new-generation vessel, which it said “offers cutting-edge design, low fuel consumption and increased capability” for Captain Cook Cruises. The vessel is expected in operation by October.

SeaLink is also investing nearly $1 million on the existing Captain Cook fleet, including a substantial refurbishment and repowering of its largest vessel, Sydney 2000.


New national standards for domestic commercial vessels covering crew competencies and operations have been unanimously agreed by the Standing Council of Transport and Infrastructure.

The Council consists of Transport, Infrastructure and Planning Ministers from the Commonwealth, States and Territories.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) chief executive officer Graham Peachey said the outcomes were historic and a major achievement for the new National System for Domestic Commercial Vessels, which came into effect on July 1.

“For the first time there will be single national standards for competency for seafarers and safe operation of vessels operating in near-coastal waters, and the ability to implement these standards nationally,” said Peachey.

“In addition, the Council also agreed another groundbreaking initiative: new national accreditation arrangements for marine surveyors. For the first time in Australia, domestic commercial vessel surveyors will operate under a single consistent arrangement.

“The new standards move us from eight different systems to one, whilst maintaining a strong safety culture,” he said.

The new arrangements for crew competencies under Part D of the National Standards for Commercial Vessels (NSCV) will include competency-based training to ensure candidates have greater exposure to practical onboard skills.

Seafarers will be able to use their new national certificates to work anywhere in Australia without needing to have them reassessed by State and Territory maritime jurisdictions, cutting out unnecessary red tape.

Regulation of crewing requirements will now be covered by Part E of the NSCV. Under new enhanced regulatory obligations, vessel operators will be responsible for addressing risk through implementing safety management plans and practical guidelines, which will be rigorously overseen by AMSA.

The unanimous agreement follows three years of extensive national consultation through industry reference groups involving representatives from the oil and gas industry, the fishing and ferry industries, seafarer trade unions, aquaculture representatives and cargo operators.


Just over a year after construction of Australia’s Marine National Facility research vessel Investigator (right) began, the CSIRO has provided imagery of the project, which is being undertaken by a Singapore-based shipbuilder.

The executive director for CSIRO’s Future Research Vessel Project, Toni Moate said Investigator is challenging the way ocean and atmospheric research has been undertaken globally, as it will support scientists across a range of disciplines – oceanographic, climate, geological, fisheries and ecosystem research.

“As much as possible, Investigator must be all things to all Australian marine scientists, as Australia has only one blue-water research vessel and this diverse and complex approach to marine and atmospheric science is unique to ocean research globally,” said Moate.

The 93.9m Investigator has room onboard for up to 40 scientists, who can stay at sea for up to 60 days and cover up to 10,000nm in a single voyage and will replace the Marine National Facility’s current vessel Southern Surveyor later this year when it’s delivered to Hobart.

The contract to design, build and commission the vessel was awarded to Teekay Holdings Australia, which CSIRO says partnered with Sembawang Shipyard in Singapore “because of its track record and strong commitment to new technologies and innovation”.

The vessel’s design will feature a core backbone of permanently fitted systems for sampling, data acquisition, management and communication, including winches, acoustic mapping and environmental monitoring instruments, such as:

· A sonar and radar system housed under the ship that can map the seafloor to 7000m;

· A deep-water coring capability off the sidedeck that can take cores 24m long at a depth of 7000m;

· A radar weighing approximately two tonnes to gather data from storms and clouds towering 20km over the tropical ocean to cold ice storms in the Antarctic, in a 300km diameter around the ship, as well as have a broad range of research applications; and,

· Dual drop keels to deploy scientific equipment 4m below the vessel’s hull, enabling acoustic instruments to be well below the bubble zone generated by the ship moving through the water.

The ship is being built to comply with DNV Silent-R classification, to minimise the noise from all the machinery onboard. This will increase the range and resolution of seabed mapping, sub-surface imaging and marine ecosystem monitoring instruments, and allow scientists to provide better estimates of the number of fish and other species in the marine environment.

Research teams will be able to add purpose-built systems to support their own investigations, such as radiation and trace-metal laboratories, deep-water dredging, coring and drilling devices, fishing nets, towed camera systems and remotely operated vehicles.


NSW Government agency Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) has taken delivery of two new patrol vessels for the Sydney region.

The 7.2m Seatamer catamarans, which are fitted with twin 175hp Honda outboards, replaced 7m Vision catamarans which also had Honda outboards. The new vessels were acquired at a combined cost of $473,500.

“These patrol boats will replace existing vessels which have served their time ensuring NSW waters are kept as safe as possible,” said RMS acting director maritime Michael Wright.

RMS boating safety officers (BSOs) patrol State waters, including rivers, lakes and dams and up to 3nm offshore.

Based at Redhead south of Newcastle, Seatamer builds aluminium monohulls, catamarans and landing craft for professional and pleasure use. The larger, 7m-plus Seacat series catamarans are custom-built and mostly purchased by professionals such as NSW Maritime Authority, Volunteer Rescue, Australian Coast Guard, charterboat operators, professional fishermen and other government agencies.


Thirteen new offshore petroleum exploration permits have been announced as part of round one of the 2012 Offshore Petroleum Exploration Acreage Release.

The award of the permits will see an estimated $180 million in new investment in waters offshore Western Australia and Tasmania over the next three years. With the proposed secondary work programs, further expenditure could rise to more than $550 million.

Twenty-three bids were received for 15 new-release areas from a mix of international and Australian companies.

Permits for single areas were awarded to 3D Oil Limited, MEO Australia, IPM West, Inpex Browse, Woodside Energy, Apache Northwest, Pathfinder Energy and CNOOC Australia E&P. Total E&P Australia was awarded two permits and Shell Development (Australia) secured three.


Delivered earlier this year, Pilbara Apollo (above images) is the first of six new identical escort tugs to be delivered to Rio Tinto as part of a single contract. The tugs will assist very large ore carriers in berthing and unberthing at exposed, open-water berths in severe wind and wave conditions.

Pilbara Apollo will operate at Rio Tinto’s WA iron ore export facilities at Cape Lambert (Port Walcott) and Dampier. It is the latest addition to the global fleet of tugs built to the RAstar 3200 design produced by Canadian naval architecture firm Robert Allan Ltd (RAL). It was constructed by Uzmar Shipbuilding Industry Co. in Turkey.

According to RAL, the unique sponsoned hullform of the RAstar Class vessels gives these new tugs a level of safety and comfort that will enable operation in conditions that were previously deemed unworkable. This unique hullform has been proven in both model and full-scale testing to provide significantly enhanced escort towing and seakeeping performance. RAL reports that the motions and accelerations are less than half those of comparable sized, wall-sided “standard” tug hulls.

Excluding fenders, Pilbara Apollo is 32m in length overall, 12.8m in beam, has a hull depth of 5.37m and navigational draft at the design waterline of 6.03m.

Main propulsion for the tug comprises a pair of Caterpillar 3516C HD diesel engines, each rated 2350kW at 1800rpm, and each driving a Rolls-Royce US255 controllable pitch Z-drive unit.

On trials, Pilbara Apollo met or exceeded all performance expectations, including producing 80.9 tonnes bollard pull going ahead, 77 tonnes when going astern and a free running speed of 14kts.

The hydraulic deck machinery, all from Ridderinkhof, consists of a split-drum escort hawser winch on the foredeck and a single drum towing winch aft.

The electrical plant consists of two CAT C6.6 diesel gensets, each with a power output of 100kW. The vessel has been outfitted to high standards for a crew of up to six. The lower deck contains crew quarters and the master and chief engineer staterooms. The wheelhouse is designed for maximum all-round visibility, with a forward control station providing maximum viewing to both fore and aft deck working areas.

Ship-handling fenders at the bow consist of two rows of 1000mm deep, 1400mm wide custom designed W fenders. Extruded hollow 300 x 300mm square-section rubber fenders provide protection at the main sheer line, and 500mm wide by 450mm deep W block-type fendering is used at the stern. The fendering system was devised by the owner’s representative Neil Edwards, working in close co-operation with the design team at RAL and the fender suppliers, Maritime International. The fendering system was subject to extensive FEA analysis to verify the responses and loads. Early indications from the operators are that this solution will perform very well in rough sea conditions.

The tug’s tanks have capacity for 129m³ of fuel, 39m³ of freshwater, 1m³ of Z-drive oil, 2.7m³ of sludge, 14.5m³ of oily water, 3.4m³ of main engine lube oil, and of 5.7m³ sewage.

Pilbara Apollo was classed by Bureau Veritas during construction but was to be converted to Lloyd’s Register once in Australia.


The Group Maintenance Contract Request for Tender for the Royal Australian Navy’s Adelaide Class frigate (FFG) fleet has been released. It is the second of the new grouped-asset, long-term, performance-based contracts for the repair and maintenance of the RAN’s major surface ships.

The tender documentation has been sent to three shortlisted contractors: BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce/KBR and Thales Australia. The contract will be for an initial five-year period, with the potential for rolling year-on-year contract extensions if contracted quality and service level requirements are met and efficiencies are achieved, up until the life-of-type of the ships.

The first Group Maintenance Contract, for the repair and maintenance of the Navy’s eight ANZAC Class frigates, was signed in May last year. Under that contract Naval Ship Management (Australia), a joint venture between Babcock and United Group Infrastructure, is reporting savings on a like-for-like scope of work in the order of 20 per cent compared to the previous “per-event” contracting model.


The NSW Government has pledged to deliver brand-new vessels, wharves and extra services starting from this year as part of a program to modernise Sydney’s ferry system.

The Sydney’s Ferry Future plan outlines short- and long-term initiatives to extract maximum value from the network, including the investment in the infrastructure and services needed to attract more customers in the future.

“We’ll deliver more than 50 new ferry services per week from October this year and invest in new vessels to replace older ferries and expand the fleet,” said Minister for Transport, Gladys Berejiklian.

The NSW Government will invest in modern new vessels, initially with six expected to commence operations from 2016. Work to procure the vessels has already begun and their specifications “will be focused on meeting customers’ needs and delivering capacity to provide services for the long term. Vessels will be designed for Sydney and provide a comfortable trip for customers”.

The specifications will also be shaped by the practical constraints of accessibility to wharves, bridge clearances, shipyard facilities and waterway characteristics.

Transport for NSW says it will pursue best practice in procuring the new ferries. It is anticipated that there will be a two-stage procurement process covering design and then construction.

The procurement process will include a period of industry and operator consultation to refine the vessel specifications and ensure that value-for-money and customer service considerations are satisfied.

The next wharves to be upgraded include Sydney Olympic Park, Drummoyne, Balmain East, Pyrmont Bay, Cremorne Point, McMahons Point and Mosman Bay. The Government will also investigate establishing new wharves for future services at Rhodes, Glebe Point, Johnstons Bay, Woolloomooloo, Elizabeth Bay and a relocated wharf at Birchgrove to meet future demand.

“We will also develop a new ferry hub at Barangaroo to serve the new commercial district and relieve capacity constraints at Circular Quay,” Berejiklian said.


A major tender for the provision of emergency towage services in Far North Queensland and for the maintenance of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s (AMSA) aids to navigation network closes in July.

The Level 1 emergency-towage capability operates out of Cairns and provides a dedicated 24/7 vessel and crew to provide emergency towage and first-strike emergency response on behalf of AMSA in the sensitive sea areas of the Torres Strait and the northern Great Barrier Reef, as well as within the Coral Sea.

AMSA manages a network of 492 aids at 381 sites around Australia’s coastline, assisting the commercial shipping industry to make safe and efficient passages. The maintenance of this network is currently outsourced. About 40 per cent of AMSA’s aids to navigation network are located within the Great Barrier Reef, Torres Strait and the Coral Sea regions.

The ETV also provides a platform to support the aids to navigation maintenance activities in these regions.

Tenderers have the option to tender for the provision of emergency towage services and/or for the maintenance of AMSA’s national aids to navigation network.

New contracts are expected to be finalised by the end of 2013 and will come into effect on July 1, 2014.


Marine safety specialist, the Survitec Group has relocated its Western Australian sales and service offices to a new and substantially larger premises, and established a sales and service presence on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

Operating until recently as RFD Australia and now under the Survitec Group banner, the company maintained a branch office in North Fremantle, WA, to service the commercial and recreational marine markets. While the old complex suited the company well, it ultimately became too small to sustain the growing demands of the local market, prompting the shift to new premises in the nearby suburb of O’Connor.

The new complex represents a significant enhancement with more modern and larger premises. The sales and administration offices are housed on the first floor and on the ground level is a substantial warehousing facility, allowing for future growth. A larger service area has been fitted with a purpose-built stage and workshops, again allowing for growth in the service markets for life-saving and high-pressure gas products.

“Our relocation to the larger and purpose-fitted facility in O’Connor provides us with the resources to better support our customers and ensure our high standards are further enhanced,” said Mark Barker, managing director of the Survitec Group. “Together with our new branch recently established on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, the Survitec Group continues to invest heavily in supporting our customers with superior service and support where it is required.”

The Sunshine Coast presence is located at Warana and lies in the heart of an intensive boating region where recreational and commercial boating activity is concentrated. The branch is positioned to support RFD and Survitec customers from the northern suburbs of Brisbane, all the way through to Hervey Bay.

“The Survitec Branch is a service focussed operation,” said Survitec Queensland manager Neal Skinner. “We are setup to service all Survitec and RFD liferafts and inflatable boats of any brand. Our service facility is staffed by Survitec factory-trained technicians to ensure that our quality control is the very best in the industry.”

In addition to the core service function at Warana, the branch office carries a basic inventory of Survitec and RFD marine products plus EPIRBS and flare sets. All other products marketed by Survitec can be supplied ex Brisbane on a next-day basis.

The presence of Survitec in the Sunshine Coast market came about through the acquisition of the established business Sunshine Life Rafts.

Survitec Group in Australia (RFD Australia) is primarily involved in the supply, service and project management of marine, fire, life support and gas control equipment to Government Departments and major corporations. In the marine segment Survitec Group services recreational boating as well as the defence, shipping and aviation industries. Major brands distributed include: RFD, Toyo, DSB, Lifeguard, Beaufort, Plastimo, Kannad Marine, Comet, Hammar and Compact.


AMC Search has secured a $21 million, four-year contract from the Department of Defence to provide Pacific Patrol Boat (PPB) training services.

The contract is for a range of technical, operational and administration courses for students from the 11 nations participating in the PPB Program. An annual suite of 16 separate training programs will be delivered in Launceston, Tasmania. Courses will range in duration from 10 days to 12 weeks. AMC Search will also deliver some training in individual countries.

Training provided to Pacific crews by Launceston’s Australian Maritime College builds a range of core skills, including maritime technical, seamanship, communications, search and rescue, navigation, and management courses.

In addition to the training program, Australia continues to provide a range of support services including the conduct of refits, engineering and technical services and logistic support.

The PPB program saw 22 patrol boats gifted by Australia to 12 nations in the Pacific between 1987 and 1997. Australia proposes to replace the current Pacific fleet from 2018 over a period of 10 years.

AMC Search is the commercial arm of the Australian Maritime College, located in Launceston. It has held the PPB training contract since 1992, during which time it has trained 4064 students.

Originally published in Trade-a-Boat 442, July/August 2013.