Excellent news to share!
1. Port of Melbourne (PoM)
2. Geoffrey Evans Trust (GET)
3. Maritime Freight Matters
4. Yarra/Birrarung deserves civic respect
5. Rowing Season
6. Murray Darling Basin
7. Keeping the Murray Mouth Open
8. Seabed Carbon Dioxide Sequestration – Contentious
9. Pacific Ocean Power
10. Pacific Island Forum
11. Heritage Precinct at the 2023 Melbourne Boat Show
12. Museum Victoria
14. Cruising – Gargantuan vessels
15. World Ship Society – four tugs
16. Classic Yacht Regatta 2023 – Williamstown
17. Victorian Heritage Vessels – ANMM List
18. Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI)
19. Australian Strategic Fleet Task Force
20. Port Welshpool Maritime Museum
MMHN is delighted to announce that the Port of Melbourne (PoM) has now formally become an MMHN Corporate Partner (Logistics and Freight). Such PoM support will enable MMHN advocacy towards achieving the eight majorand assist us in progressing various projects in our MMHN pipeline.
The PoM is the largest port for containerised and general cargo in Australia. Since 1st July 2003 our port has been managed by the, a statutory corporation created by the State of Victoria. MMHM takes every opportunity to remind the wider public, especially young people, that maritime trade has been and remains the basis of Victoria’s prosperity.
More good news. You may have noted that the Geoffrey Evans Trust has generously funded several MMHN heritage projects which have been aligned with the specific purpose of the GET “to serve as a financial catalyst to support and inspire Australian Youth to undertake maritime pursuits.” We are delighted to announce that GET has now become a MMHN Corporate Partner (Education).
This Trust was established by Geoffrey Evans, who, after 40 years in the RAN, continued in the RAN Reserve retiring with the rank of Commander. He continued to pursue his keen interest in the sea cadet movement and oversaw transition of control of the Navy League’s Sea Cadets to the Australian Navy Cadets under the auspices of the RAN. MMHN is, as you all know, also committed to raising maritime heritage awareness in young people and in doing so grow maritime stakeholders of the future. MMHN is very grateful for such philanthropic support.
Stating the obvious to maritime stakeholders but, thanks to COVID, general awareness of our vulnerability and utter dependence on trade by sea is growing. There has been widespread and alarming media coverage on supply chain infrastructure issues. The Conversation (13/11) David Tuffey reports on the DP World “Major cyberattack on Australian ports suggests sabotage by a foreign state actor”. DP World is one of Australia’s largest port operators, handling approximately 40% of the nation’s container trade across terminals in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Fremantle. Cyberattacks on ports and shipping are becoming more common.
In February 2022 several European ports were hit by a cyberattack that disrupted oil terminals. Earlier in 2023, a ransomware attack on maritime software affected more than 1,000 ships. The Port of Lisbon was targeted by a ransomware attack which threatened the release of port data. All this attention reveals a global vulnerability in maritime trade. The Federal government is providing support and advice to DP World and other affected parties through the Critical Infrastructure Centre and the Trusted Information Sharing Network.
The Yarra River Business Association reports a decline in the state of maintenance along Southbank Promenade. “Pre-COVID it was estimated that 25,000 visitors and up to 40,000 workers a day used the walkway. The concrete pavers have a working life of 5-10 years, which means they’re about 20 years overdue.” Southbank, residents and traders plan to “formally request that Council lifts its game”. The concern is the focus the Northbank Greenline project. MMHN notes that this contentious issue is a direct result of urban planning failure over decade in perpetuating a false dichotomy between the north and south banks of the central corridor of the City of Melbourne, the Yarra/Birrarung. The river and its banks are a single entity, not two-separate urban development areas.
Equally disrespectful behaviour is displayed by Parks Victoria which continues to park sizable collections of water-borne garbage alongside Southbank Promenade.
Image: Southbank Upgrade City of Melbourne website
MMHN acknowledges the immense importance of rowing around the globe and around our State. Like so many sports, rowing initially evolved as necessary for survival and later as a means of transport and a major recreational pursuit both as a solo and team sport. Numerous competitive rowing events event occur on rivers and lakes and around our coast for much of the year.
Two major events occur on the Yarra /Birrarung in November 2023 – Melbourne Head 2023 and Head of the Yarra. There are so many fun events of all rowing types around the state over Summer.
MMHN recommends that you watch out for the splendid rowing events on the Yarra and elsewhere on the waterways of this State.
Image: Yarra Business Association
Australia is a vast island continent. However, we seldom acknowledge the immense volumes of water which intermittently flow across our land. Such a collective resource is invaluable and critical to our national prosperity and sustainability. The Murray–Darling Basin is a large geographical area in the interior of SE Australia, encompassing the drainage basin of the tributaries of the Murray River, Australia’s longest river, and the Darling River, a right tributary of the Murray and Australia’s 3rd longest river. The Basin includes 6 of Australia’s seven longest rivers covers around 1/7 of the Australian landmass. Commodification of this vast resource of water and equitable management of it is ‘big business’ – an environmental and economic tangle. We all know this. Or do we? MMHN draws your attention to the Productivity Commission’s publication of 31 Oct 2023.
This is crucial reading for those who understand the importance of our inland waterways – all of which eventually reaches the coast, The report presents progress made toward implementing the Murray–Darling Basin Plan since 2018. It makes interim recommendations about the actions needed to achieve full implementation of the Basin Plan.
The report is certainly not positive noting the need for more transparency and accountability. Importantly: “recently proposed extension of the Basin Plan timeframes is necessary but won’t be enough”. A final MD Basin report is due in December.
This is a complex and critical matter. It is important that the Murray mouth remains open to maintain connectivity between the river, the Coorong and the Southern Ocean, to discharge salt and other nutrients out to sea, and to maintain healthy ecosystems in the Coorong. Maintaining an open Murray Mouth is a key objective under the Murray-Daring Basin Plan, which was adopted in 2012. The Basin Plan seeks to ensure that the mouth remains open without the need for dredging. For more information regarding activities being undertaken see Project Coorong.
First discovered by Hume and Hovell the Murray River was at a point above Albury in 1824. Hovell named it the Hume after Hume’s father, but when Capt. Sturt made his 77 day voyage to the Murray mouth in 1829-30 he named it Murray, after the then Secretary of State for the Colonies. Early attempts to navigate the river were dangerous and unsuccessful until 1852 when the government offered a bonus of $8,000 for the first paddle-steamer to reach Echuca. This was achieved by both William Randell and Francis Cadell. It was at this time that river trading was established, providing many thousands of new jobs and creating new settlements and industries along the entire length of the Murray River system.
Image: Department for Environment and Water, South Australia
Federal govt. is proposing to bring Australia’s laws into line with changes to the London Protocol, an international treaty on the prevention of marine pollution. See defended proposed legislation that would allow carbon dioxide to be exported and stored under the seabed in international waters. Lisa Cox reports in the Guardian “The legislation would also allow permits to be issued for “marine geoengineering” research that could be used to combat the climate crisis”. Those opposed to the bill argue that would “help facilitate the expansion of gas projects, such as Santos’ Barossa offshore gas project, which proposes the establishment of a carbon capture and storage (CCS) facility in the depleted Bayu-Undan gas reservoir in waters off Timor-Leste”. And would allow “companies to claim to meet emissions reductions targets while exporting those emissions to other countries.”
This is clearly a contested field. However, ocean chemistry changing. The ocean [already] acts as a “carbon sink” and absorbs about 31% of the CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere according to a study published by NOAA and international partners in ‘Science’. As atmospheric CO2 levels increase, so do the CO2 levels in the ocean. This phenomenon is commonly referred to as acidification.
See: Carbon Sink
Complex geo-political scene indeed. The Conversation (6/11) comprehensively reports “Pacific leaders now describe the Pacific Islands’ geopolitical landscape as crowded and complex. Many democratic powers have recently refocused their attention on the region, including Australia, the United States, New Zealand, France, the United Kingdom and Japan. One after another, they are rolling out big-ticket initiatives to improve their reputations and relationships in the region. Chinese influence and presence often cited as the stimulus for this.” But despite all the discussion about a potential Chinese military presence in the region, what is often overlooked is the existing presence of Australian, American and French forces (although such militarisation is contested by many islanders)”.
MMHN recommends that you look a series of 5 excellent interactive maps appearing in this article. The Policing Assistance map shows China’s rather nascent policing activities compared to the broad-reaching as the assistance provided by Australia and New Zealand.
See: The Conversation
At the Pacific Island Forum in November, The Conversation academic team is asking experts on the Pacific to examine the great power competition in the region. How are countries like the US, Australia, China and others attempting to wield power and influence in the Pacific? And how effective has it been will be presented in a series in due course.
An excellent first attempt to engage the immensely popular recreational boating industry enthusiasts with their maritime heritage.
MMHN thanks BIA (Vic) commends Nick Atkins at the Victorian Wooden Boat Centre on North Wharf for generously hosting MMHN and several members of Maritime Museums Victoria.
MMHN also congratulates the stalwarts of the heritage fleet in Victoria Harbour – the Steam Tug Wattle, the Enterprize and the Alma Doepel.
Images: Jackie Watts
Recently MMHN met with Museum Victoria with the view to forging closer contact and, in due course, gaining a better understanding their ‘legacy’ maritime collection. We alert you that MV are exhibiting (from 6/12) 200 artefacts from the famous wreck of the reputedly ‘unsinkable’ Titanic which got stuck ice and sank more than 110 years ago.
Image: Museum Victoria website
Note also a recent fascinating MV event which you can still access on air, ‘Megalodon and the Age of Ocean Giants’ at which Professor Tim Flannery, scientist, conservationist and explorer, spoke about his newest book, Big Meg, which chronicles the rise and fall of marine megafauna and how they shape Earth’s past, present and future. He deals with the evolution of ocean giants, from megalodon sharks to living leviathans, like the blue whale and the crucial role they play in shaping oceanic ecosystems.
Local MV palaeontologist, naturalist, Erich Fitzgerald also presented at the event. Erich is leading scientific exploration of fossils in Melbourne’s Bayside suburbs of Beaumaris and Black Rock, as well as the Surf Coast. The megalodon, is an extinct species of giant mackerel shark that lived approximately 23 to 3.6 million years ago.
Hear Professor Flannery on the ABC
Image: Jackie Watts Megalodon tooth
From one gigantic species to another. Imagine sailing on a liner larger than town. The world’s biggest cruise ship Icon of The Seas, is under construction in a shipyard outside Turku in southern Finland. Icon of the Seas will launch in January 2024. Royal Caribbean’s latest ship will break all records on its maiden voyage, in the new year.
Quite simply, it will be the largest cruise ship the world has ever seen: accommodating 7,600 passengers – roughly the same as can fit onto 18 jumbo jets – plus a crew of 2,350 with an on-board total of almost 10,000 people – almost exactly three times the number that sailed on the Titanic. Not the best sales pitch?
See: Icon of the Sea
Image: Royal Caribbean
MMHN thanks the work Ship Society for yet another fascinating and rare image of 4 tugs at work in Port of Melbourne waters.
Image: Bjorn Bjornesjo: OOCL Shanghai, a regular caller over many years is seen being assisted by all four Svitzer tugs after having engine problems at the river entrance.
MMHN congratulates all involved with the 2023 Classic Yachts Regatta at the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria (RYCV). The club was founded as the Port Phillip Yacht Club in May 1853 and remains one of the oldest yacht clubs in Australia. MMHN thanks in particular Mark Chew and the team Southern Wooden Boats for extending an invitation to MMHN to watch the first race event on Saturday 3/11 aboard beautifully restored Crayfishing vessel the Margaret Pearl.
Sailing on Saturday and Sunday, two races each day, 15 knots of breeze on Saturday kicking up to 20 plus for the second race. Sunday was a light wind day in 10 knots. Quoting competitors from the Sorrento Sailing Couta Boat Club “It was magnificent to see the Old Classic yachts Acrospire and Sayonara sailing with full rig including topsails and Yankees “. Marvellous views of the competing yachts and the fabulous shoreline of Port Phillip Bay.
Just in case clarification is required: a regatta consist of individual races, where the overall winner is the crew that performs best in the majority of the races.
Image: Jackie Watts
Continuing with the topic of heritage vessels, MMHN is pleased to learn from the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) that a welcome change is afoot by late-November. MMHN advocated that ANMM improve their Heritage Vessels list so that each State can better access all their local noteworthy heritage registered vessels. MMHN argued that this change will encourage maritime enthusiasts in this and other States outside of NSW to look more closely at the marvellous vessels they may they close to home.
With luck owners of even more Victorian vessels will make their way onto the ANMM Australian Register of Historic Vessel which lists over 800 historic vessels, with images and background information on designers, builders, owners. geographical location, aspects of their type or class, the eras their life has spanned, and stories. Victoria’s magnificent Sayonara made the list.
Peter Court, an internationally experienced master mariner, principal consultant at DNV Consulting and founder of Court Marine consulting. posed the question in the ASPI publication The Strategist (23/10) “Australian navy, army, air force and ? What’s missing? The answer being – a strong merchant navy!” – MMHN recommends this excellent analysis in preparation for the following piece on our federal government response.
“So, where does Australia rank as a shipping nation? We barely earn a mention in world shipping rankings. Even landlocked Switzerland outranks us, and the largest shipping country by tonnage globally is China. This leaves Australia too dependent on foreign interests to move our international, and even domestic, cargo over sea.”
“It isn’t a military service, but in times of crisis—natural disasters, regional unrest and wars—the merchant navy has delivered food, fuel, medical equipment and arms to military efforts and kept the economy going at home. Merchant vessels have run raw materials to steel mills, fuel to distribution points, and other cargo around the country, often as defenceless targets.”
“During World War II, 30 Australian merchant vessels were sunk running supplies around our coast. We had the capacity to endure that then. During the 1999–2000 Australia-led operations in East Timor, two Australian-crewed merchant vessels were chartered to run supplies to Dili for some months. But that local supplier no longer exists. A merchant fleet also provided a maritime training ground that Australia still badly needs. As an island nation dependent on sea trade, Australia needs skilled sailors, harbour masters, marine pilots, tug masters and engineers, safety regulators, port operations managers, and technical managers and marine managers for exports.”
In October 2022, Federal Minister for infrastructure and Transport Catherine King established a Strategic Fleet Taskforce to advise on the creation of a maritime Strategic Fleet that will strengthen our economic sovereignty and support improved national security outcomes. In essence the fleet will comprise vessels that are Australian flagged and Australian crewed. For an island nation utterly dependent on maritime trade and maritime defence is clearly necessary. Minister King stated “Establishing a Strategic Fleet made up of Australian Flagged and crewed vessels was a key commitment of our Government during the election”.
The Taskforce Report was issued this month.
A federal response to the Task Force recommendations followed. Though largely supportive the Federal response generally avoided implementation timelines to recommendations and lacks other policy detail. More consultation is mooted which is a concern when the deficit situation is acute. The Federal response is particularly deficient in its approach to maritime training. It fails to recognise that safaring training is not akin to more conventional pathways. This reality may be inconvenient for established bureaucratic agencies but is the fact of the matter, Australian maritime capability is not confined to vessels alone. – It relies upon properly supported well trained seafarers.
MMHN strongly recommends that interested maritime stakeholders make comment via
Over the summer break a suggestion for you from MMHN member John Wolley from the Port Welshpool Maritime Museum.
Take a trip into scenic South Gippsland, to view the coastal township of Port Welshpool. The iconic Port Welshpool Long Jetty is a marvellous piece of infrastructure with extensive Information Panels along its length as well as a deep sea diving bell used in the Bass Strait oil and gas fields. This was, of course, the precursor to the Offshore Oil and Gas Industry as we know it today. The Port Welshpool Maritime Museum, built in 1890, has undergone extensive renovations and has excellent displays of the early commercial fishing industry, including a 38ft fishing boat built by Wright Bros. of Williamstown in 1914. Also, there is a very extensive shell collection and a photographic display of Bass Strait Oil and Gas development. The former Sea-Cat Terminal exhibits Parks Victoria marine conservation including, education for children on marine species found along the Victorian coast. Importantly an information person will be on hand to answer your questions.
MMHN commends OSSA for their tireless advocacy work to address this vexed – and dire – maritime deficit situation in relation to an Australian Strategic fleet. It seems this sage advice was heeded – to an extent – in the Taskforce report and the government response. More is needed. The advocacy work continues.
MMHN also commends OSSA marvellous work in collaboration with ANARE Club and Friends of the Nella Dan, Denmark in relation to appropriately commemorating the crucial role of the famous Dan Ships in Australian Antarctic Research. A plaque is to be installed in due course. More of that in the new year.
There is still time to purchase the first-ever historically accurate maritime history book for young people (ages 7-12 years) entitled River to Bay – Victoria’s Maritime History and in doing so support MMHN advocacy and projects.
MMHN Christmas Message
Where are these a tad tired but Christmassy buoys? They are ‘beached’ seeking a paint job near the Polly Woodside on what we hope will become in due course become the Southbank Maritime Precinct.
As we fast approach the end of another most eventful – and successful – year for all maritime sector enthusiasts and stakeholders in the marvellous maritime state of Victoria! That said – we cannot ignore the reality that we are amidst most challenging times.
May harmony and peace prevail in 2024.
Best wishes from all at MMHN,
Dr Jackie Watts OAM
Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network