What an eventful month this has been – fire, wrecks, wind power, collisions, engine failures? Read on…
(Click on the headings below for specific items, or scroll down for the full Update)
1. Underwater Cultural Heritage
2. Invitation: Maritime Image Spotting Anyone?
3. Maritime Logistics Inquiry
4. Hull-Melbourne Connection
5. TACK to the Future (No ‒ not a spelling error!)
6. Fire at Sea
7. Tonga Rescue – Volcanic Ash Problem?
8. Williamstown Pier situation
9. Disappearing Maritime Infrastructure
10. BAE Dockyard at Williamstown
11. Fascinating final ’voyage’ for a famous boat – on land!
12. Extraordinary Tug Boats accident – defies belief!
13. Australian Institute of Marine and Power Engineers (AIMPE)
14. Navy News
15. Geelong Wooden Boat Festival, March 11th – 14th 2022
16. Steam Boat Association of Australia (SBAA)
17. MMHN Museum of the Month
A very topical maritime matter this month:
First – have your say. A Parliamentary Inquiry into the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage 2001 is finally underway. Australia’s ratification of this UN treaty has been mooted for the last 20 years. As it happens, Australia actually helped write the document. You can find more about the Convention here: All about the 2001 Convention (unesco.org) which says: The Treaties Committee of the Australian Parliament is empowered by its resolution of appointment to inquire into and report on ‘matters arising from treaties and related National Interest Analysis and proposed treaty actions presented or deemed to be presented to the Parliament’. As nearly all treaty actions proposed by the Australian Government are tabled in Parliament, this type of review activity accounts for much of the Committee’s work. Are you interested in underwater maritime heritage? The Committee invites interested persons and organisations to make submissions on the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage by 18 March 2022. More info
Update: On 21 February the Convention was tabled in the Australian Parliament commencing the formal consideration of ratification. MMHN members might consider individually submitting a supportive response to the JSCOT committee. This can only help. More info
This final ratification step REALLY matters in relation to international maritime heritage engagement and collaboration.
Second – Politics, science, timing and the wreck of the Endeavour – or not? Witness the extraordinary heat surrounding the current dispute around wreck identification in the collaborative Rhode Island Martine Archaeologist Project of which the Australian National Maritime Museum is a participant. More info.
Further – you may wish to check the Victorian State position on underwater heritage assets. More info
The MMHN Heritage & Museum Special Advisory Group is convening what promises to be a fascinating workshop sure to be of interest to many maritime stakeholders. It is a unique opportunity to help identify some of the 5000 astounding photographs of our waterways in the Public Records Office (PROV) Harbour Masters Collection. The images will be scanned and projected to assist identification; many of the images have not ever been seen in public. This is the first collaborative workshop between MMHN, PROV and the City of Melbourne (Waterways Branch).
When: Wednesday, 16 March, 10am – 12 noon
Where: City of Melbourne Waterways Branch, Unit 20, 439 Docklands Drive Docklands
If interested email email@example.com,au. Workshop numbers are strictly limited.
MMHN commends OSSA for its excellent submission to this inquiry. OSSA took the opportunity to bring its considerable expertise to bear in a strong submission, referring in detail to Australia’s deficits in our maritime sector capacity for self-sufficiency and resilience in the context of the maritime logistics system. OSSA argued that national maritime policy falls into four prime categories:
- Disaster preparedness
- Critical Maritime skills shortage
- Security considerations, i.e. hostile acts impacting our maritime trade and/or our capacity to supply critical resources to our armed services
The OSSA submission carefully unpacks these four aspects of the national maritime deficit. OSSA is convinced that while this deficit in ‘Australian content’ in the national maritime logistics system operates during normal, healthy times of economic growth, production and co-operation, in times of prolonged crisis or conflict, maritime logistics system will suffer immediate and comprehensive failure leaving Australia completely exposed to the whim of foreign interests, both friend and foe. This OSSA submission comprehensively outlines what need to be done to strengthen Australia in these challenging times. The outcome of the Inquiry will not be public until after the election. MMHN encourages you to read the submission. More info
Historic maritime connections spanning two centuries between Australia’s great southern port city, Melbourne and Hull, the significant UK port city of Yorkshire, is seldom acknowledged or celebrated. Historic global connections are many and varied – and importantly – forged by people with great endeavour on the ocean: seafarers, engineers and commercial entrepreneurs. And this connection continues today!! MMHN strongly recommends you tap into this history through a new blog by Blaydes Maritime Centre. More info
MMHN anticipates interesting research reports throughout 2022 on the global investigations being undertaken by Melbourne University academic Dr Christaan Beukelaer into wind-assisted commercial cargo. Christaan recently presented at the MMHN Wind Power event clarifying the intent of this research (the entire presentation will shortly be uploaded to the MMHN serbite).
In essence, harnessing wind energy to drive the immense cargo vessels plying our oceans has the potential to significantly reduce carbon emissions in the maritime industry sector. This ‘hybrid ‘approach will deliver gains and will be critically important in the overall global campaign to cut carbon emissions.
Tack to the Future. More info
Vessel of the future? Ocean Bird
International media recently reported high drama on the sea as the 650-foot-long Felicity Ace car carrier (size of three football fields) caught fire in the cargo hold on 10 February. Two days later the crew were forced to abandon ship off the coast of the Azores and were rescued by the Portuguese navy. The cargo of luxury cars included a mind-blowing 3,965 Volkswagen Group vehicles ‒ Porsche, Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini etc. ‒ which were being transported from Emden, Germany and was headed to Davisville, USA. The abandoned vessel still floats in the Atlantic Ocean as the Japanese-based owner of the shipping line, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines (MOL), makes plans to have the vessel towed to port. It is assumed all vehicles are lost at an estimated total of US$401 million. The fire is now believed to be burning out.
Salvage This incident brings the fine ‘art’ and law of salvaging into focus. Marine Insight website presents salvage law as being very complex indeed. And it is no surprise that most ship owners engage ‘salvors’ to prevent the plunder of their vessels and property. More info
From as early as the 15th century, ships and other sea-going vessels have been salvaged when they sank, ran aground, or otherwise befell some calamity. Salvage in this domain encompasses saving any property on board a ship. Maritime salvage is not restricted to a single generalized framework that governs all types of vessels and locations. Instead, it is a broad umbrella term referring to the categories that it governs. The term ‘plunder’ refers to an individual salvaging items from a ship illegally and without the permission of the shipowner. In such cases, valuable items may not be returned to the shipowner, or the perpetrator may demand a very high fee for the salvage. The ship in question must no longer be able to sail but should not have yet been condemned. Obviously offshore salvages are easier because vessels close to land can be towed to land. The primary cause for confusion, protracted legal battles, and financial losses to the parties involved in a salvage contract is when the terms are not clearly laid down and understood by all the stakeholders. A major point of contention is regarding the property and structures that are to be salvaged under the contract. Environmental damage is certainly a hot topic. In relation to the Felicity Ace – watch this space. Given the global extraction industry infrastructure and more recently the proliferation of wind farms, it is interesting to note that IMO Convention does not include offshore structures such as drilling units and other installations. More info
The Felicity Ace burning in the middle of the Atlantic.
Anchored on 29 January after delivering 88 tonnes of emergency aid to Tonga, HMAS Adelaide experienced a total power failure. While emergency power was restored within a matter of hours, a second power failure occurred a day later. The first failure was said to be a result of the diesel generator failing and the second because of a gas turbine. There is speculation that volcanic ash in the air and the water may have affected the ship’s seawater cooling system causing overheating which in turn caused the diesel generation to shut down. A wide technical investigation is underway. Operating complex maritime systems in such close proximity to volcanic eruptions is clearly a challenge. More info
Image: Channel 7 News
Given the degraded but very necessary maritime infrastructure at Williamston, MMHN contacted Parks Victoria seeking accurate information on this most worrisome situation. Regrettably very little information emerged. Seaworks alerted MMHN to the problem – three Williamstown piers are now closed to the public by Parks Victoria:
Workshop Pier ‒ closed two years ago
Boyd Jetty and Commissioners Jetty ‒ closed late December 2021.
We now understand that a preliminary assessment led to Parks Victoria closing piers because of the public safety risk. Further assessment indicated that the structures were unsafe for vehicles as well as the public. More detailed investigation is underway and will deliver a Total Condition Report in due course. No date is set for this. A dilemma for the state government persists around this maritime infrastructure. Minister of Ports Infrastructure must work out who must pay for remediation of this infrastructure which is, of course, in her electorate. Meanwhile Seaworks and the public at large are being forced absorb the adverse impact of this protracted inaction over years by ALL responsible authorities. Had adequate investment in maintenance of critical maritime infrastructure occurred when warranted years ago this messy governance and remediation could have been avoided. There is no timeframe for re-opening.
MMHN commends the efforts of the Western Port Oberon Association (WPOA) in trying to alert all Victorian maritime stakeholders and enthusiasts to the degradation and neglect of maritime infrastructure around our coastline via an on-line petition. This problem is particularly acute in Williamtown. Rosey Kendall writes please sign and share this petition as Melbourne and Victoria need to preserve our Maritime Heritage and infrastructure now for our future generations to enjoy, if others around the world can do it then why can’t we? SAVE OUR MARITME HERITAGE NOW make our State Government fix our piers and jetties now, as this is the reason WPOA can’t bring the Wyuna home [from Tasmania] as there is nowhere to berth her.
This picture was taken at Tall Ships Festival at Seaworks, Williamstown 2013 on Workshops Pier, which is now closed due to being unsafe, so until our piers are fixed, we can’t have another Tall Ships Festival.
To access the WPOA Petition see: Petition
A sad reminder and images of further maritime infrastructure degradation at Williamstown from ABC News, May 2017: Victoria’s Williamstown shipyard has been left on the brink of closure after being snubbed in the Federal Government’s new naval shipbuilding plan, the Victorian Government says. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has today released Australia’s largest shipbuilding and sustainment program, including more than $1 billion worth of infrastructure upgrades at the Osborne shipyards in Adelaide and at the Henderson shipyards in Western Australia. The plan acknowledges South Australia will struggle to provide the thousands of skilled workers needed for the massive expansion of the Navy’s fleet, with foreign workers and interstate talent needed to meet the ambitious production deadlines. Construction on Australia’s Future Frigates is due to start in 2020. But the Williamstown naval shipyard facility, in Melbourne’s west, will miss out on new investment.
MMHN has no further information on this sad situation but these images, provided to us by the WPOA are a graphic illustration of the political problem facing Victorian shipbuilding. Speaking in Adelaide, Defence Minister Marise Payne said it was decided the work would go to the two states based on the findings of a strategic review of the country’s capabilities. The then Victorian Industry Minister Wade Noonan is quoted as stating the Prime Minister had once again snubbed Victoria, despite its ‘proven capacity’ in shipbuilding. They have made a very clear decision to prioritise South Australia and Western Australia exclusively and Victoria was left out of this strategic review. More info
Images : WPOA
MMHN thanks Harry Bowman for his description and images of his epic 35-year engagement with this fabulous heritage vessel culminating in a journey not by sea – but on land! The Sea Air Rescue 026 is to be relocated the RAAF Museum at Point Cook. Harry found ‘The Old Girl’ in the mid-1980s afloat in the Yarra River not far from Polly Woodside. Harry quickly became obsessed with the vessel and, with his WWII veteran father, Howard Bowman, his sister and brother-in-law, Harry jumped at the opportunity to purchase the vessel. He writes that they motored across Port Phillip Bay to Mordialloc Creek where she was crane loaded on to a huge boat trailer and transported along the Princess Highway to Sale, a major exercise in those days without any type of escorts etc. where she was launched by two cranes into the Port of Sale.
For the past 35 years the vessel has travelled the waterways between Sale and Lakes Entrance, moored in freshwater in Sale through the winter and then on to Lakes Entrance for the summer. She has also never missed a Wooden Boat Show at Paynesville which was always a major attraction. Harry maintained, as far as possible, her original condition while also making her a comfortable 2nd home and family cruiser. In war service with the RAAF and possibly in New Guinea, the vessel performed search and rescue operations on the Gippsland Lakes. She also had a role at the 1956 Olympic Games ceremonies. Some months ago, Harry contacted MMHN and OSSA and we are pleased to have connected him to David Gardner OAM, RAAF Airforce Curator, History & Heritage Branch, Air Force Headquarters, Point Cook, who was extremely excited at being able to get hold of a piece of Australian wartime history as they having nothing of the type in their museum. The vessel is to be restored to her 1940 condition and in due course, put on display at Pt Cook. The vessel was originally built nearby at Fishermen’s Bend, Melbourne. Harry describes the final voyage as a major spectacle transporting her along the Princess Hwy as it travels from Lakes Entrance to Point Cook. MMHN looks forward to the installation of this fine example of Australian maritime heritage.
Images : Harry Bowman
The Australian-flagged cement carrier Goliath collided with and partly sank not one but TWO docked tugboats, the York Cove and the Campbell Cove, at the Port of Devonport on 28 January as it arrived from Melbourne. No one was injured and the cause of the accident is being investigated. The tugs are now sitting partially on the seabed and remain secured to the wharf. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said a team of transport safety investigators from ATSB’s Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney offices are deploying to the accident site. Threatened oil spillage from the tugs was a major issue. The two tugs had 60,000 litres of fuel onboard. An expert salvage contractor was recruited from NSW.
Image : ABC NEWS
An impressive maritime organisation, AIMPE, has been furthering the professional and industrial interests for 140 years! And produces the very appropriately titled ‘On Watch’. For those who enjoy maritime technicalities, the Summer Edition contains a ‘nitty-gritty’ engineering account of the wonderful technology found in and on the Nyuna.
AIMPE Federal President Martin Byrne reports on the formation post-COP26 of a Green-Shipping Network: Quad countries represent major maritime shipping hubs with some of the largest ports in the world. As a result, Quad countries are uniquely situated to deploy green-port infrastructure and clean-bunkering fuels at scale. Quad partners will organize their work by launching a Quad Shipping Taskforce and will invite leading ports, including Los Angeles, Mumbai Port Trust, Sydney (Botany), and Yokohama, to form a network dedicated to greening and decarbonizing the shipping value chain. The Quad Shipping Task Force will organize its work around several lines of efforts and aims to establish two to three Quad low-emission or zero-emission shipping corridors by 2030.
Ships that are being built today will be producing emissions for the next 30 years. The IMO has long recognised that there is a very big task ahead for the maritime industry: More info
AIMPE also reports that this dog regularly
moves around the Nyuna engine rooms
Seeing Navy ships sailing in our waters and docked on our piers lifts the hearts of all maritime enthusiasts. MMHN Board member CMDR Greg Yorke RAN has alerted us to forthcoming ship visits to our waters as follows:
- 4-6 March, proposed Minehunter visit to Melbourne in support of 80th Anniversary of the sinking of HMAS Yarra
- 10-14 March, Proposed STS Young Endeavour visit to Geelong in support of Wooden Boat Festival
- 7-11 April, proposed Amphibious Ship visit to Melbourne in support of Australian F1 Grand Prix
- 22-25 April, proposed Amphibious Ship and Destroyer visit to Melbourne and Frigate visit to Geelong in support of Anzac Day
- 4-8 May, proposed Replenishment Ship visit to Melbourne in support of Battle of the Coral Sea
And maritime enthusiasts might also be interested in the Australian Naval Anniversaries More info
MMHN Board Member Jeff Malley photo archive, August 2008, RAN with USS John S McCain at Station Pier. Possibly Y299 Wallaroo, 04 Darwin and on the other side of the pier is 266 Sirius.
HMAS Australia, Culgoa and Arunta berthed at Princes Pier Melbourne, 4 April 1947
The Wooden Boat Festival of Geelong is a celebration of the beauty, history, and craftsmanship of wooden boats of all kinds.
The event is held biennially in even years over the March Labour Day Long weekend. As well as the on-water component of wooden vessels racing on Corio Bay, the Wooden Boat Festival of Geelong provides a range of waterfront activity and entertainment for families and the greater Geelong community.
The 2022 event will include live entertainment for the entire family, exhibitors displays, guest speakers, distillery tastings and of course the classic and wooden boats on display at Royal Geelong Yacht Club.
For more information visit www.woodenboatfestivalgeelong.com.au
MMHN is delighted to report news from Graeme Hind, President Steam Boat Association of Australia (BSMAA). Graeme, who is from Albury, writes: MMHN members may not be aware of the SBAA – a fairly small association of less than 150 members from across the nation. They have an interest in all things steam boat related and most members own an historic or historic-style boat, most of which are steam powered. The aims of the SBAA are to encourage the preservation of historic steam powered craft, promote the construction of new steam powered craft, and to organise and support events to create interest and encourage the use of steam boats. And most importantly, to create a fellowship among like-minded enthusiasts, promote information sharing and help when needed. The SBAA also produces a quarterly members magazine, the ‘Steam Leak’ which is always filled with interesting reading and is the envy of associations ten times the size! Membership is open to all and we welcome new members. I enclose links to both the SBAA website and the SBMAA Facebook group.
Graeme continues: I have recently become aware of the MMHN through a recent conversation with Jeff Malley [MMHN Board member] and Tony Lewis from the Bay Steamers Maritime Museum. They and their team are working hard to return the steam tug Wattle to its former glory … I discovered that one of their members was an ex-crewman on the 1940s built Tribal Class Destroyer HMAS Warramunga, and was on board her in Tokyo Bay at the Japanese surrender. So too was my late father. What’s the odds of that? My father was a stoker and after his discharge from the RAN, he had a lifelong career in the boiler industry, eventually running his own company until his passing. He obviously transferred the steam gene to me. I witnessed the dying days of steam on Australian railways and took up the cause for rail preservation. I am a steam locomotive driver on a couple of heritage railways in Victoria and elsewhere in addition to training and assessing the next generation of budding steam drivers. My interest in steam also includes the maritime variety, and so I’m regularly on the water in my 25′ steam launch SL BUNYIP. Graeme concludes: See you on the water, hopefully with a full head of steam.See https://www.steamboat.com.au
The steam vessel Bunyip. Image: Terry Lance vessel Witch of Endor
Port of Echuca Discovery Centre. Echuca on the Murray River
Echuca and its NSW twin town of Moama are living museums of the life of the former Murray River port and its townships. The simultaneous construction of the wharf and the railway line between Echuca and Melbourne in 1864 saw the Port of Echuca become the second largest port in Victoria and opened access to Melbourne ports and markets for much of the Murray-Darling basin. The wharf is still operating, servicing paddle steamers for the tourist trade. In 2007 the wharf was added to the Australian National Heritage List. It underwent a total restoration in 2017, with most of the original timber structure being replaced by locally-milled Red Gum pylons, planks and beams. The wharf is complemented by operating live steam machinery and a railway locomotive, carriages and imaginative historical displays. All these well-maintained items are attracting considerable crowds of Australian visitors bringing the area back to life. Clearly heritage assets have a demonstrable economic value to the community and the nation! MMHN is delighted to report on Echuca – a valued member of Maritime Museums of Victoria (MMV) More info
Do keep well, everyone.
Until next month,
Dr Jackie Watts OAM
Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network
0400 305 323 or email firstname.lastname@example.org