Commercial Marine News


Century-old maritime laws have been replaced with new requirements for commercial seafarers and vessels with the commencement of the Navigation Act 2012 and Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012 on July 1.

These are claimed to be the biggest reforms to Australia’s maritime sector in more than 100 years, with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) administering both acts.

“The Navigation Act 2012 sees Australia’s maritime laws reflect the expectations of a modern shipping industry,” AMSA’s CEO Graham Peachey said.

The fundamental requirements for ships to be seaworthy remain unchanged, while the new Navigation Act highlights the need for ships to be operated and navigated safely by competent seafarers who have decent working and living conditions.

The Navigation Act also provides AMSA with a range of new measures to ensure compliance with safety and environmental requirements including increased financial penalties for non-compliant vessels, exclusion of vessels from Australian ports with poor inspection histories, and issuing on-the-spot infringement notices for marine order offences.

“AMSA recognises that the majority of the shipping industry seeks to ensure that ships are operated safely and with no damage to the environment,” said Peachey.

The introduction of the National System for Domestic Commercial Vessel Safety sees AMSA as the national regulator for commercial vessel safety. The National System means eight existing regulations will be replaced with one set of national rules.

“Having one set of rules cuts red tape and reduces the administrative burden for businesses in the maritime industry and allows industry to operate across State and Territory borders freely,” Peachey said.

The development of the national safety standards has been in conjunction with each of the States and Territories who will act as delegates of the national regulator in implementing the new standards.


Skilled Group has entered into an agreement to acquire Broadsword Marine Contractors for an initial consideration of $48.8m, and further deferred consideration of $26.7m payable over three years.

Broadsword is an NT-based marine-services provider with exposure to the full lifecycle of activity in the Australian oil and gas sector. Broadsword provides inshore and offshore shallow-water services to a high-quality client base, with a fleet of small to medium vessels (typically less than 40m), and has an established presence in the NT, WA and QLD.

The fleet currently comprises 24 vessels, of which 18 are owned and six bareboat chartered, and a pontoon. In addition, a 24m catamaran is currently under construction in NZ, with anticipated capital expenditure of $4 million in the current financial year. Broadsword has recently taken delivery of four vessels from the same builder, contributing to a relatively young average fleet age of approximately four years. The average capital value of the vessel is approximately $1.5 million.

Skilled said the acquisition is complementary to the existing manning and marine logistics services provided by its growing Offshore Marine Services business and the OMSA joint venture; and the acquisition builds increased scale, geographic reach and service breadth in an attractive high-skill, high-margin segment.

Broadsword has an established client base, an experienced management team and is enjoying strong growth in demand for its services. It is well positioned to benefit from the strong pipeline of opportunities in the oil and gas sector, including floating LNG projects. These opportunities extend to all phases of exploration, construction, operations and maintenance.

Skilled believes its oil and gas expertise, safety systems, client reach, back-office systems and financial strength will enhance Broadsword’s market position and service capability.


The rejuvenation of the fleet of Marine Rescue NSW (MRNSW) continues with a number of new rescue vessels officially welcomed into service in recent months.

Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie’s new $410,000 10m rescue vessel Lake Macquarie 30 arrived at its new home in early July. MRNSW commissioner, Stacey Tannos said Lake Macquarie 30 was the latest Naiad to join the fleet.

“Lake Macquarie 30 is a valuable addition to marine search-and-rescue resources in the Hunter-Central Coast region,” said Tannos. “This is one of more than 30 new and refurbished vessels that have been delivered at a cost of more than $9 million as part of our ongoing project fleet upgrade being delivered with the financial support of the NSW Government and the boating community.”

Lake Macquarie 30 has twin 250hp Suzuki four-stroke outboards as well as Raymarine navigation, Icom marine radios, Furuno AIS, FLIR night-vision and advanced first aid kit including cardiac defibrillator and oxygen therapy.

Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie’s deputy unit commander Roger Evans said the new Naiad was “a really magnificent boat”, with an offshore deployment capacity of up to 30nm in addition to its inshore capability for work on the lake.

More Naiads

Marine Rescue Brunswick is another unit to have recently taken delivery of a Yamba Welding-built Naiad. The 9.5m Brunswick 30 was built on the same rapid-response platform that the NSW Police, Marine Rescue Wooli (NSW) and Coastguard New Zealand use. With twin 250hp Mercury Verados, it can reach speeds above 40kts. It also has a sophisticated electronics package including AIS, FLIR and advanced first aid equipment.

The Enforcer

In late June, Marine Rescue Port Kembla celebrated the official commissioning of its $130,000 rescue vessel.

Tannos said the $123,500 Cobia Enforcer RIB on a $7250 trailer, was based on Lake Illawarra, forming a valuable addition to the region’s inshore marine search-and-rescue resources.

“The 6.25m Cobia provides Port Kembla members with the flexibility of operating on both the main body of Lake Illawarra, as well as the capability to trailer around to the popular Windang Channel when low tides or bad weather cut off direct access from the main lake,” said Tannos.

Port Kembla unit commander Peter Purnell said Port Kembla 20 was a great asset for the unit and is powered by two 90hp Suzukis.

Popular Kevlacat

Marine Rescue Port Hacking’s new $270,000 offshore rescue boat was commissioned in mid-June. The 8.5m Kevlacat is able to travel up to 15nm offshore.

“Port Hacking 30 will be the third Kevlacat deployed in the region... its sister ships already on-duty on local waters with Marine Rescue Botany Bay and on Sydney Harbour with Marine Rescue Port Jackson,” Tannos said.

The vessel will be stationed at the duty wharf at Hungry Point Reserve, providing fast access to the busy waters of Port Hacking, Bate Bay, Botany Bay and adjacent coastal fishing and cruising areas.

Rapid-Response Steber

A month earlier, Marine Rescue Ulladulla celebrated the commissioning of its new $650,000 rescue vessel Ulladulla 30. The Steber 38 long cabin, which was reviewed in TAB441, is a rapid-response vessel capable of travelling up to 30nm offshore.

Ulladulla unit commander Ken Lambert said Ulladulla 30 was the unit’s first new vessel, replacing its former boat, the Arun class Encounter, retired due to the increasing effort needed to keep it at peak rescue readiness.


Queensland tourism operator Cruise Whitsundays has taken a major step to enhance its ability to service the Airlie Beach and island trades with the acquisition of a new passenger catamaran. Aluminium Marine in Brisbane commenced construction of the ferry on speculation last year and the sale was announced after it was virtually complete earlier this year.

Last year the New Zealand-owned Cruise Whitsundays significantly expanded its market share through the acquisition of the Whitsundays operations of Fantasea Adventure Cruising, effectively consolidating the market into a single operation. Cruise Whitsundays took over Fantasea rights to service Hamilton Island, the two Reefworld platforms on Hardy Reef, the land and marina holdings at Port of Airlie but only one Fantasea vessel, Charmer.

Boosting the fleet is Cobia, an aluminium catamaran which measures 24m in length overall on a waterline only 0.2m shorter. Beam is 8.5m, draft 1.7m and depth 2.75m. Lightship displacement is reported to be 58 tonnes, with a full complement of passengers, crew, fuel and freshwater adding 22 tonnes.

In NSCV 1C survey and operating with five crew, Cobia seats 124 passengers in its main deck cabin, with a large bar/kiosk located aft. Three toilets are located across the aft end of the deck, one of which is wheelchair accessible.

Entry and egress are aided by a pair of midship boarding doors, in addition to the stern gates.

Up to 44 passengers can be accommodated in the upper deck cabin, with 26 outdoor seats aft. An additional toilet is located in the aft end of the upper deck cabin.

Cobia also features structure for a lifting stern platform, allowing for the simple retrofit of such a feature at a later date.

The vessel is fitted with a pair of Yanmar 6AY-WGT diesels resiliently mounted and close coupled to Yanmar YXH-240 transmissions and ultimately spinning a pair of five-bladed, 35 x 36in fixed-pitch propellers.

Capable of speeds in excess of 27kts, Cobia easily achieved its loaded service speed of 25kts at 85 percent MCR on sea trials.

According to Jack Louwerse, engineering manager at Aluminium Marine, the decision to specify Yanmar for this build was easy.

“We have used quite a number of Yanmar marine diesels in our other boats over the years and our clients have not been disappointed yet,” said Louwerse.

“The robust design of the Yanmar engines and their simple non-electronic governor system are their key attributes for us and our clients. These are purpose-built marine engines, not converted truck motors. As such they are durable, easy to service and highly suited to the marine environment,” he said.

The 670kW main engines, as well as two 62.5kVa generators, are fuelled from tanks totalling 4000lt.

Cobia is the fourth example of Incat Crowther’s latest 24m catamaran design completed for Queensland operators, following on from Fantasea Sunrise, Freedom Sovereign and Riverside Avalon which have operated in the Whitsundays, Yeppoon and Gladstone.


Incat’s world-first dual-fuel fast-ferry (right) carried out its first sea trials running on liquefied natural gas (LNG) in early June.

The 99m wave-piercing catamaran’s twin tanks were loaded with LNG for the first time in late May; with the two LM 2500 gas turbines that provide the ship’s power initially run on gas while alongside in Hobart prior to the sea trials.

Earlier, the ship was sea-trialled with ballast for a 1460-tonne displacement trial, comfortably exceeding 50kts at full power and maintaining a steady 49kts at 90 per cent power while operating on marine distillate.

With capacity for 1000 persons and 150 cars, the ferry incorporates a luxurious fitout including an 1100m² duty-free shop. It has been constructed for customer Buquebus for operation on the River Plate between Argentina and Uruguay.


Volvo Penta has launched the IPS900 (above) with Rating 3 for commercial vessels. This means that a larger number of boats for commercial use can take advantage of the benefits Volvo Penta claims for the IPS: improved fuel economy, better manoeuvrability and lower overall operating costs.

With the launch of Volvo Penta IPS900, the IPS (Inboard Performance System) is now available for boats in the coast guard and patrol, supply vessels and offshore energy, and passenger transport segments.

The Volvo Penta IPS900 combines the unique pod construction and a proven heavy-duty diesel engine in a system that is specifically designed for marine commercial applications.

The IPS900 package uses a Volvo Penta D13 diesel engine with a power output of 515kW. It is a solution for boats with Rating 3 (medium-duty use, approx 2000 service hours/year). The low-power usage means reduced load, lower oil temperature, lower engine temperature and thus reduced stress on components – and by that increased durability and longer life. It also means longer service intervals for the whole package, for the IPS unit as well as the engine itself.

With Volvo Penta IPS the customer gets a complete, classifiable drivetrain from a
single supplier who takes responsibility for everything
from helm to prop, something which Volvo Penta says is unique in the industry.

According to the Swedish manufacturer the newly-launched product means easier maintenance, longer lifecycle and increased uptime. Combined with low fuel consumption, this provides a lower total cost of ownership. Examples of improvements include new gear material, reinforced housings and a completely new design. The new design is said to provide extended oil change intervals, longer periods for propeller seal replacement and increased reliability.


West Australian shipbuilder Evolution Commercial was recently selected to repair storm damage that occurred on WestSea Marine’s large 90m barge Westsea 3006 (right) after it broke loose during a cyclone.

Evolution Commercial director Mark Stothard said the team at his yard were selected because they had proven themselves on numerous other projects for the same client.

“Once again the Evo team stepped up to the plate and completed the project on time and on budget,” said Stothard. “The Evolution team were only given four weeks to turn the barge around and
with an area of 300m² of damaged plate to replace as well as numerous other topside jobs to do, the mission was certainly not a walk in the park.”


June was a busy month for the US operation of Australian shipbuilder Austal with one ship launched, one delivered and the keel for another laid as part of its US Navy projects.

On June 5, 2013, Austal launched its third Joint High Speed Vessel, USNS Millinocket (JHSV 3). The 103m high-speed catamaran will undergo final outfitting and activation before sea trials and delivery to the US Navy later this year. USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) was delivered in December 2012 and is currently stationed in Virginia. USNS Choctaw County (JHSV 2) was delivered to the Navy exactly six months later on June 6.

“This ship is delivering just six months after the first ship in the class, USNS Spearhead, delivered – a commendable accomplishment for this dedicated Navy-shipbuilding team,” said US Navy JHSV program manager capt Henry Stevens. “With their high-speed, on-load and off-load capabilities and maximised cargo space, these vessels will provide the Fleet versatile and flexible capabilities for decades to come.”

The US Navy describes the JHSV as “a versatile, non-combatant transport ship that will be used for fast intra-theatre transportation of troops, military vehicles and equipment.”

Each JHSV is designed to commercial standards, with limited modifications for military use. The vessels can transport 600 short tons 1200nm at an average speed of 35kts and can operate
in shallow-draft ports and waterways, providing US forces added mobility and flexibility. The ships also have an aviation flight deck to support day and night air-vehicle launch and recovery operations. JHSVs have berthing space for up to 104 personnel and airline-style seating for up to 312. A slewing vehicle ramp enables use of austere piers and quay walls, common in developing countries. A shallow draft further enhances port access.

With the delivery of the first two JHSVs complete, Austal is currently under contract with the US Navy to build a further eight JHSVs under a 10-ship, $1.6 billion contract as well as seven 127m Independence-variant Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) class vessels, six of which are a part of a 10-ship, $3.5 billion contract for which Austal is the prime.

On June 25 Austal held a keel-laying ceremony for the fourth LCS – Montgomery. This is the second LCS of 10 awarded to Austal as prime contractor.

A traditional keel-laying ceremony marks the first significant milestone in the construction of the ship. Due to Austal’s modular approach to ship manufacturing, 36 of the 37 modules used to form the aluminium trimaran were under construction at the time, with four having transitioned from the company’s Module Manufacturing Facility (MMF) to the final assembly bay.

Austal has also recently celebrated a keel laying ceremony for Fall River (JHSV 4) and construction has also begun on Trenton (JHSV 5). Coronado (LCS 4), the second LCS built by Austal for General Dynamics, is currently progressing through builder’s trials. Another three LCSs are under construction.

Originally published in Trade-a-Boat #443, August/September 2013