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Call for Great Barrier Reef shipping review

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on May 24, 2012 at 1:15 AM Comments comments (0)
Australian marine pilots Monday called for a review of how ships pass by the Great Barrier Reef, warning of the risk of a major environmental disaster on the tourist attraction.

Australian Reef Pilots, a firm with a century of experience in the region, raised its concerns after a Hong Kong-flagged bulk carrier broke down near the reef on Friday and drifted disabled for more than a day before it was secured. The company wants to see shipping routes restricted and the area where vessels must use pilots extended, moves which could prompt strong objections from foreign vessels accustomed to free passage. "This is a second incident in about the last month where we've had a ship drifting outside the Great Barrier Reef but drifting towards it," Australian Reef Pilots chief executive Simon Meyjes told AFP. "The biggest problem there is that they are in very deep water, they can't drop anchor to stop themselves drifting so they either have to fix their own problem or wait for help to come." Meyjes said in the latest incident, involving the 186-metre, 45,000 tonne bulk carrier ID Integrity, it took close to 48 hours for tugs to reach and secure the vessel as it drifted in the Coral Sea. The ship broke down north of the Queensland city of Cairns on Friday en route from Shanghai, and floated completely disabled near the world's biggest coral reef, narrowly missing grounding on the outlying Shark Reef.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority emergency tow vessel Pacific Responder reached the bulk carrier late Sunday to connect a line and was pulling it towards Townsville on Monday. But Meyjes said the potential disaster could have been dealt with more quickly if all ships were forced to travel in the shipping lanes inside the reef, rather than on the outer edge of the coral and towards open sea. "Inside the Great Barrier Reef, they are in shallower and protected waters. They can anchor. And obviously they are much closer to help and the response time is much less," he said. "The risk profile when you're outside the reef and something goes wrong, it's terrible. An oil spill would spread very, very rapidly and you've got a couple of thousands of miles of exposed reef edge." Meyjes also urged that ships have a local pilot on board when they are inside the Great Barrier Reef area. Conservationists have long raised fears about the impact of increased traffic on the Great Barrier Reef as Queensland state's coal and gas boom strengthens. Meyjes added: "There are shipping accidents around the world on a regular basis. I'm not saying that it's inevitable but I am saying that there is certainly risk there that we need to consider." Source : AsiaOne

Jumbo transports MOF caissons for Gorgon project

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on May 24, 2012 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Jumbo’s engineers and the crew of HLV JUMBO JUBILEE have successfully transported and discharged fourteen of the twenty-five MOF caissons for the Chevron-operated GORGON PROJECT on Barrow Island, Australia. So far the operation was performed as planned with respect to every detail: safety, environmental conservation, transportation, mooring and tidal discharging.

Diverse employability

The contract for the transport and discharge of the MOF caissons was awarded to Jumbo by DB Schenker, on behalf of the Saipem Leighton Consortium. Jumbo’s in-house engineering knowledge and the diverse employability of the JUMBO JUBILEE makes clear why Jumbo got the job. The heavy lift vessel has a unique deck lay out, enormous hold capacity and is allowed to sail with open hatches. This makes it possible to make optimum use of the capacity and transport seven MOF caissons at once while maintaining a minimum ship draught.

Scope of work

In four shipments the JUMBO JUBILEE will transport the total of 25 caissons from Port Klang, Malaysia to Barrow Island, Australia. The caissons, weighing from 600t up to 700t (D: 12.5 and H: 16.8 meter), will be lifted from a barge and placed in the hold of the vessel for transport. At Barrow Island Jumbo will use anchor points and mooring lines to keep the vessel in position while discharging the caissons. The caissons form the base of the future Material Offloading Facility.

Environmental compliance

Barrow Island is a ‘Class A Nature Reserve’. Jumbo developed and implemented a strict quarantine compliance plan, including an extensive familiarization and environmental training program. The captain and crew of the JUMBO JUBILEE received a certificate of appreciation for their vigilance in ensuring the ongoing compliance of the vessel with Gorgon Quarantine requirements.


The JUMBO JUBILEE will make two more voyages from Port Klang to Barrow Island transporting the MOF caissons. By performing on schedule, Jumbo supports the project meeting its critical path requirements in the development of the Barrow Island Heavy Lift Facility. Demobilization of the JUMBO JUBILEE is planned in July 2012.

The Gorgon Project

The Gorgon Project is one of the world's largest natural gas projects and the largest single-resource project in Australia's history. It is operated by Chevron and is a joint venture of the Australian subsidiaries of Chevron (approximately 47%), ExxonMobil (25%), Shell (25%), Osaka Gas (1.25%), Tokyo Gas (1%) and Chubu Electric Power (0.417%).

Queensland's historic Steam Tug under threat of being scrapped!

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on May 24, 2012 at 12:50 AM Comments comments (0)

The future for coal burning steamships in Australia looks doomed. The Queensland Maritime Museum Association’s historic coal fired steam tug FORCEFUL’s future looks just as uncertain as its larger coal fired cousins the SS RIVER EMBLEY and SS RIVER BOYNE that are due to retire from service in the next few weeks and the SS ENDEAVOUR RIVER and SS FITZROY RIVER that departed the Queensland coast in the last couple of years for the scrap yard. The following is a statement on “The Friends of Forceful” Facebook site. “I am sad to say that as a result of what has recently come to light S.S FORCEFUL sadly is at imminent risk of being scrapped!!! and no I'm not joking. A leak at the ship's stern has been discovered and as a result all non essential maintenance has been ordered to stop.

Maritime Safety Queensland (MSQ) has given till the 10th of June to have Forceful out of the water and the problem rectified or the tug will be condemned. As it stands at the moment with the Queensland Maritime Museum, any funds to facilitate such a repair is not possible. If she was to be repaired the Queensland Maritime Museum would collapse, to prepare her for scrapping or scuttling it would also send the Queensland Maritime Museum broke as the Queensland Maritime Museum is in no financial position to do any of the above. Keeping a steamboat such as Forceful is no cheap thing, but she is by no means beyond repair. We just lack the funds. Forceful has precious little time and its running out!

Not only is she one of the last of her kind, she is also the last ship to operate out of all the Australian ships the Australian Navy used in world war two, she is also one of the last coal burning steamers left in the world, the last of a long list of ships built by Alexander Stephen & Sons shipyard since the 1780's: Forceful is the last one left. Furthermore the last steamer to have been in commercial service on the Brisbane River. As it stands at the moment the only way people will be able to see Forceful soon is with photographs, film and video footage. Some things are just to precious to lose and much that should have been saved for posterity was not. S.S Forceful is in imminent danger of being just another piece of our history to be lost. Do we want to see Forceful consigned to history and lost forever? or do we want to see her sailing with a full head of steam into the future and apart of the future, for our children and our children's children. For the Friends of Forceful we will fight by whatever means we can to save this precious piece of history, until the end. The gloves are off, Forceful has just entered her 11th hour and we need help urgently. It isn't over till it is over, but anything that is worth doing has always been and always will be hard to do. In closing I have proposed a motto for the Forceful should she survive: NEVER SAY DIE!”

The Friends of Forceful raised funds to help have doublers welded over the thinnest of the hull plaiting, this work being carried out in December 2011. To save her from being condemned by MSQ it looks as though she needs to be removed from the water and more doublers welded to her hull as a temporary repair until the required funds can be raised to re plate her hull properly. Forceful has been a permanent fixture in Brisbane for most of her life, built in Glasgow Scotland in 1925 by Alexander Stephen and son. Forceful spent most of her working life in the port of Brisbane and was even pressed into Navy service as HMAS Forceful during the Second World War, where she spent most of her time between Fremantle and Darwin before being returned to her owners in Brisbane. Forceful was also involved in the salvage of many stricken merchant vessels under extreme weather conditions.

After her retirement from harbor towage and ocean salvage Forceful was acquired in 1971 By the newly formed Queensland Maritime Museum Association and formed the back bone of the museums collection. Since then Forceful has been up until a few years ago a regular sight on the Brisbane River taking many tourists and steam buffs alike on short cruises down the river out into Moreton Bay, even as far as Redcliffe to see off the participants in the Brisbane to Gladstone yacht race. Forceful even whetted steam enthusiasts appetite for all things steam when Qmma in conjunction with Sun steam conducted the ultimate steam tour, steam train ride from Southbank station to Pinkenbar Then steam tug river cruise back to South Brisbane Dock or visa versa. Movie buffs will also have noticed that Forceful made a cameo appearance in the 1989 Movie The Delinquents staring a young Kylie Minouge. Unfortunately however the costs in maintaining her hull became to costly for the Museum after it was reviled during a scheduled slipping that some of her hull plates had become under the 6mm thickness tolerance and for safety reasons Forceful was laid up. It is a shame that such a historic Merchant vessel with wartime Navy service is about to be lost forever!

Unless funds can be raised to bring Forceful back into a condition that will prevent MSQ from condemning her in the short future. And in the long run funds to bring her back into survey/ serviceable condition so she may one day be seen heading down the river under her own steam for all of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia and the rest of the world who chose the visit this great state to enjoy now and for the future. There are very few Merchant vessels of any kind that have been put into preservation by Maritime Museums In Australia. Forceful is a good representation of all the equipment and systems used in her larger merchant navel cousins. Forceful’s two scotch type boilers are very similar to the scotch type boilers used in merchant vessels such as the RMS Titanic and her sister ships the Olympic and Britannic. Foreful’s triple expansion steam engine is the same type of engine that powered nearly all shipping during the steam age. Forceful allows people to see what life on board a merchant ship of the day would have been like, when she was steaming she allowed her passengers to feel, smell and touch and witness the full experience of what it took to take a steamship to sea back in the day. We are about to loose this forever unless funds can be found to save her for future generations to experience. If we can save her hull we can save Forceful

Any offers of assistance can be directed to the Friends of Forceful and they will see that they reach the appropriate people. -

Maritime Union welcomes Government decision to reflag foreign fishing vessels

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on May 24, 2012 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

The Maritime Union has welcomed the Government's announcement that foreign charter fishing vessels working in New Zealand waters will have to be reflagged under the New Zealand flag. Maritime Union of New Zealand General Secretary Joe Fleetwood says this will mean that fishing vessels catching New Zealand quota will have to fully comply with New Zealand employment, health and safety, and labour laws, once the policy comes into force. Mr Fleetwood says the moves can't come soon enough, and the four year transition period announced was overly generous. He says he hopes that no exemptions will be given at the end of the four year period to any foreign flagged vessels. "Given the string of fishery breaches, labour abuses and harm to crew members experienced in recent years, we must ensure that the industry is policed over the transition period."

The Maritime Union has spent many years calling for stronger regulation of the fishing industry, and through its affiliation to the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) has assisted many foreign crew members in distress who have been victims of unethical and sometimes illegal practices. The situation had now got to the point where New Zealand's reputation was in jeopardy with some of our biggest trading partners, including the United States. Mr Fleetwood says the Maritime Union would also like to see some specific measures to give young New Zealand workers an opportunity to work in our fishing industry.

Introducing Robert Coombs - new Industrial Officer

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on May 19, 2012 at 1:05 AM Comments comments (0)

The Australian Maritime Officers Union Executive Council has approved the appointment of Robert Coombs as an AMOU Industrial Officer.


Robert has extensive experience in the areas of shipping, port authority and stevedoring industries. His experience also includes office management and legal/collective bargaining responsibilities in the maritime work place. Robert has also extensive experience, including as a Director, of the industry superannuation fund 'Maritime Super'.


Robert has had four years experience as a NSW Member of Parliament, experience as an MUA/SUA official and many years working at sea in the Australian Merchant Navy.


Robert Coombs will commence duties as an AMOU Industrial Officer in the Sydney Office on Monday 2 July 2012.

Record Coal Exports for Newcastle

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on May 6, 2012 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

The Port of Newcastle has set a new monthly record for coal exports.In April more than 11-point-eight million tonnes of coal was exported, breaking the previous record by almost 200-thousand tonnes.

The monthly record follows a calender year record last year of more than 114 million tonnes worth about $13 billion.

The CEO of Newcastle Port Corporation Gary Webb has welcomed the result.

“The Hunter Valley coal chain operated extremely well throughout April and it is a credit to all concerned that the throughput reached a record figure,” he said.

Source: ABC Newcastle

Drill boat's misfortunes in NZ continue

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on February 26, 2012 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

The Greenpeace protest is another chapter in the Noble Discoverer's problem-plagued visit to New Zealand. Shell Todd Oil Services brought the Noble Discoverer to Taranaki from Singapore last year to drill the Ruru 1 exploration well off the South Taranaki coast. Thought to cost close to $200,000 per day in operating and contract fees, the total drilling project had an estimated price tag of more than $50 million. The Noble Discoverer arrived in late January last year and was expected to take two months to complete the 4000-metre well. However, when a storm hit and the ship broke its moorings on April 26 it had still not reached its target depth.

One of the oldest drill ships in the world, the 45-year-old converted bulk carrier sustained minor damage in the storm but its drilling equipment took a beating and it dropped tonnes of gear on the sea floor. The ship had to be wintered at Port Taranaki and then undertake repairs in June, and in September it left its spot beside the main breakwater and headed to Brisbane for its five-yearly certification before returning. The Noble Discoverer was due to leave to drill three exploratory oil wells in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska this weekend. Source :

Port workers strike for 3 weeks

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on February 26, 2012 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Port workers at Auckland were said yesterday to have "nothing to lose" by striking for three weeks from this morning, after their union issued an extended walkout notice. Importers had already warned of shortages of medical supplies and raw materials for manufacturing as well as retail goods while faced with a two-week strike expected to disrupt 25 container ships. That was before the Maritime Union, with more than 300 members walking out at 7am today, issued the Auckland Council-owned port company with notice of a third consecutive week-long strike. Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly told the city's governing body chaired by Mayor Len Brown it should not underestimate the dispute's seriousness, as 40% of the country's freight crossed Auckland's wharves, which had implications for "tens of thousands" of workers relying on supplies getting through. But workers had no alternative given company preparations to contract out their jobs, after its refusal to accept union concessions for greater flexibility over working hours. Blaming the council for giving the company an excuse to do that by demanding twice the current 6% annual return on investment, she said the workers had "nothing to lose - within six weeks they will all be dismissed". "These workers are in a desperate situation that will drive down productivity in this port, so the only choice is to fight, and to fight as hard as they can and bring the people of Auckland with them." Leading hand stevedore Danny Belsham, after 33 years at the port, said he did not believe anyone working there wanted to be on strike as that was "always a last resort when there's nothing left in the tank". Company chief Tony Gibson later denied the port had reached the point of deciding to contract out stevedoring work, saying there would be a further six-week consultation period after that. "We're still working through the business case and we've still got to provide a meaningful dialogue with the union about what that contracting-out proposal would look like," Mr Gibson said. But he confirmed the company had expressions of interest from would-be contractors. Source : ODT

Australia: Carins harbour to be dredged for cruise ships

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on February 26, 2012 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

The Australian reports that the main harbour at Cairns in Australia will be dredged to make way for larger cruise ships, under a A$40 million tourism commitment proposed by Queensland Liberal National leader Campbell Newman. The dredging of Trinity inlet is also expected to boost Cairns' capacity to accommodate a greater naval presence, diversifying the economy of far north Queensland, which has seen unemployment reach over 10 per cent in recent years. Making the announcement from the deck of local charter boat Crocodile Explorer, Mr Newman said the project would be subject to environmental approval but "where there's a will, there's a way". The Australian said vessels up to about 280m in length are capable of docking at Cairns, but larger boats are often dissuaded from stopping in the region because the nearest safe berth is at Yorkey's Knob, 18km north of the city. "That ship behind us has about 2400 or so passengers, so if they come ashore and each spend $100 or $200, you do the math. It's a huge economic benefit for Cairns," he said Source : Dredging News Online

Union fears steel ship sale job losses

Posted by Captain Jack Sparrow on January 27, 2012 at 5:00 AM Comments comments (0)

The Maritime Union of Australia has described BlueScope Steel's decision to sell its cargo ship the Iron Monarch as a "kick in the guts".

BlueScope announced this week that it would be selling the 38-year-old ship, which carries slab steel to the company's Western Port in Victoria.

Last year, the Iron Monarch received a $17 million upgrade.

As part of the company's restructure, it has stopped producing slab steel and modifying the Iron Monarch to carry hot-rolled coil steel is considered too expensive.

The union's Illawarra spokesman, Garry Keane, says it is likely 60 workers at Port Kembla will lose their jobs as a result.

"Coming on the back of BlueScope just having spent $17 million doing a refurbishment of the Iron Monarch, which left our guys thinking they were fairly secure in their positions for the next 10 years, it's really quite devastating for the people," he said.

Colin Johnston has been working on the Iron Monarch for 16 years and says the announcement came as a shock to the ship's crew and stevedores.

He says the weekly, round-trip aboard the Iron Monarch meant the workers could see their family more than most shipping jobs.

"There's one of the blokes that has been on here since the ship first came out and a lot of the crew that have come through have spent a lot of years on board this vessel because of the actual privileges of being able to get home and seeing your family and being a home porter," he said.

"Well I'm still in shock over it and I can't believe that after they'd just done the major dry-docking and life extension on this vessel ... to turn around and cease with slab and not to convert this ship to carry coil, it's got a massive impact on me and the crew on the vessel and also our family."

BlueScope's supply chain general manager Ingilby Dickson says switching to rail is more cost effective than modifying the ship.

"They did have a look at whether they could do a capital restructure and significantly change the structure of the Iron Monarch to make it available to carry big round things - hot rolled coil - and unfortunately the commercial [considerations] with an old vessel like the Iron Monarch ... didn't stack up for a medium to long-term solution compared to rail," he said.

Mr Dickson says the Iron Monarch will be sold.

"That could be moving steel around the Mediterranean or northern Europe or even throughout Asia, where there may be some potential opportunities for her further use," he said.

"Hopefully that will be the case, obviously the last thing we'd want to see is her moving to any sort of scrapyards."