MMHN July 2021 Update

Greetings

July 2021 MMHN Update contents: 
(Click on the headings below for specific items, or scroll down for the full Update)

1. CSIRO – Research in a Maritime Industry
2. Australian Heritage Council (AHC) appointment
3. Indigenous Maritime Heritage – Your help is sought!
4. Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre
5. History Council of Victoria (HCV) – Diverse Maritime Heritage Research
6. Boating Industry Australia – long overdue recognition
7. Piers under threat
8. Parks Victoria – neglect of maritime heritage infrastructure
9. Liverpool Docks Degraded – Parallels with Central Pier
10. Stella Maris Seafarers Centre
11. Seafarers plight during COVID
12. Cruising – Post Pandemic Denmark to reopen for cruise calls from 26 June
13. MMHN Maritime Museum of the Month
14. More on Dead Fishes – of the most regrettable kind
15. MMHN Advocacy News
16. Heritage Anecdotes – an invitation
17. Electric and Flying Ferries – not so far away
18. Propulsion News – Reusable Steel waste
19. Heritage Vessel news
20. Williamstown Dreaming – can we make this happen?

1. CSIRO – Research in a Maritime Industry
In preparing the Women in Maritime Industry Forum agenda, we happened upon an extraordinary CSIRO case-study, which exemplifies diversity in the male-dominated maritime sector. Aboard the CSIRO research vessel Investigator, there are women at work in wonderfully diverse roles – scientists, ship’s crew and support staff all engaged in answering the seriously BIG questions, delivering up to 300 research days a year, travelling from the tropical north to the Antarctic ice-edge – the doctor (dentist, physiotherapist, counsellor), the captain, oceanographers, a marine geophysicist, a Voyage manager and overall leader, and the remarkable Toni Moate who oversaw the construction of the ship, a task entailing five years’ effort to propel the creation of this $120 million specialist ship. See https://blog.csiro.au/seafaring-superstars-six-women-shining-on-our-national-science-ship/

2. Australian Heritage Council (AHC) appointment
MMHN is delighted to join other heritage stakeholders in welcoming the appointment of former Victorian Premier and architect the Hon Ted Baillieu as chair of the Australian Heritage Council. We are encouraged to hope that MMHN maritime heritage advocacy will resonate more strongly than ever in heritage circles with this appointment. Mr Baiileu is patron of a number of relevant groups including the Public Record Office Victoria (PROV) and Queenscliff Historical Museum. The role of the Council includes advice to the Minister in relation to nominating, conserving and protecting places on the National Heritage List or Commonwealth Heritage list, as well as advice to the Minister on other aspects of heritage including promotion of heritage, national policies on heritage, grants and other heritage matters. See
https://www.environment.gov.au/heritage/organisations/australian-heritage-council/about

3. Indigenous Maritime Heritage – Your help is sought!
The inaugural MMHN Seminar held last February slipped between bouts of Covid lockdown at Docklands Library. The maritime heritage community clearly revealed an ‘appetite’ to learn about initial contact as well as Indigenous maritime heritage See https://www.mmhn.org.au/event/port-phillip-bay-looking-out-looking-in-‒-aboriginal-and-colonial-perspectives/

We are delighted to discover that this important topic is being progressed in further academic research in a project titled: Global Encounters and First Nations Peoples: 1000 years of Australian History.The project, supervised by Monash Professor Lynette Russell AM, seeks to reframe our telling of the who, when, where and how contacts occurred between Indigenous peoples and those who came from across the sea. We are aware that there is a great deal of interest amongst community historians, divers, and ‘detectorists’ in pre-British visitations to the Australian continent, and as part of the project we are undertaking a survey of Torres Strait and the Australian East Coast evidence of contacts which might, for example, involve Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Melanesian or Polynesian visitations. We are seeking to catalogue digital images of artefacts that may have arrived in Australia prior to European settlement, the stories of their discovery, and especially information regarding the location they were found. This includes items in private hands. We acknowledge there may be concerns regarding the laws governing heritage artefacts, especially items that might have been in a family for generations, and anonymity, if requested, is assured. It would be greatly appreciated and acknowledged if curators could advise if they have such items in their collections. The evidence might be scant, contestable and difficult to assess but we would like to hear about it so it can be added to the big picture. We would also, where possible, like Indigenous groups to share with us stories of external contact. Anyone wishing to engage with this great project should email:  Lynette.russell@monash.edu  See project details at  https://www.monash.edu/arts/monash-indigenous-studies/global-encounters-and-first-nations-peoples

Early European Ship, Aboriginal rock painting in Kakadu National Park of an early European ship. Date of production: between 1765 and 1813. Wikimedia Commons, Google Art & Griffith University Photographer: Paul Taçon

4. Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre
Launched amid Covid-19 in January 2020, this new research centre may not yet be familiar to maritime enthusiasts, but it will be. It is a ground-breaking collaborative venture managed by the Blue Economy CRC-Co Ltd, and headquartered at the Australian Maritime College, Newnham, Tasmania. The intent is to bring together the aquaculture and renewable energy sectors to address the challenges of sustainable offshore food and energy production and to leverage the benefits of co-location, vertical integration, and infrastructure and shared services, based on expertise in all aspects of offshore engineering and seafaring – shipping, defence, oil and gas industries.

Global comparison reveals that Australia can once again count itself the lucky country holding the world’s third largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) with a marine territory larger than its landmass. Australia has enormous potential to use its ocean domain to increase seafood and renewable energy production. 80% of our EEZ is classified as offshore i.e., beyond two nautical miles from the coast and subject to oceanic waves, tidal currents and wind – in locations suitable for energy capture and transformation into energy ‘carriers’ such as hydrogen, for storage or export. Examples of research include:

  • Energy production

In a report from the Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre, Adam Morton reports in The Guardian Australia (Online: 22 July 2021) that Australia has ten offshore wind projects under development. The report highlights the as yet untapped potential of this renewable energy resource estimating that potentially more than 2,000GW of offshore wind turbines could be installed in areas within 100km of an electricity substation, noting that the Latrobe and Hunter Valleys close to both transmission grids have strong offshore winds at times in the year when solar and onshore wind output is limited.

  • Employment

In a new book Blue Economy CRC Research Director, Professor Irene Penesis and CEO Dr John Whittington  discuss opportunities in Australia’s new Blue Economy industries focusing on offshore aquaculture and offshore renewable energy and the role of the Blue Economy CRC reflecting on the way in which Traditional blue economy industries transition into new environments and sustainably grow in ways that are not currently possible. https://blueeconomycrc.com.au/book-chapter-published-preparing-a-workforce-for-the-new-blue-economy/

Further on maritime workforce transition, The Guardian Australia (22 July 2021) reports that the MUA expresses similar optimism about the potential for blue economy wind farms’ capacity to generate employment for seafarers and offshore rig gas workers presenting an opportunity to transition into the important work delivering Australia’s clean energy future.
See https://www.mua.org.au/building-offshore-wind-australia
See also The International Energy Agency IEA Offshore Wind Outlook 2019 https://www.iea.org/reports/global-ev-outlook-2021

  • Ethics & Blue Water – Exploitation / Extraction Issues

Scientific and public scrutiny of the mining industry, cattle feed lots, dairy farming, chicken etc. is familiar to us all – but what of the new areas of exploitation/extraction potentially of immense importance to our economic future where new ethical challenges seem to arise continuously. Aquaculture is no exception. Netting, lines, tracking, krill, kelp, tuna – and salmon. The recent book by Tasmanian Richard Flanagan describes the evolving exponential growth trajectory and looming environmental threat facing the Tasmanian offshore salmon industry. The Sydney Morning Herald’s Gabriella Coslovich (26 July 2021) describes farmed salmon as the battery hens of the sea.See https://www.smh.com.au/national/the-battery-hen-of-the-sea-the-fight-to-clean and https://salmonfarming.dpipwe.tas.gov.au/dentrecasteaux-channel-and-huon-river-up-tassie-salmon-farms-20210624-p58433.html

As the blue economy grapples with rapidly emerging technologies, it’s good to note that the Blue Water CRC recognizes these problems. Blue Water CRC hosted an important roundtable webinar on 28 July on the topic What are the key ethical values relevant to the Blue Economy? Regrettably a recording of this fascinating and topical webinar is not publicly available. MMHN encourages you to register with the Blue Water CRC to receive invitations to such events in the future. See https://blueeconomycrc.com.au/contact/

5. History Council of Victoria (HCV) – Diverse Maritime Heritage Research
Very pleasing to note that maritime heritage research in three excellent presentations in the HCV Making Public History Webinar. These may be accessed on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfAm0_BAXeo
First Contact, Southern Ocean and Fishing History in WA.
Recreational Fishing – Big Business – getting bigger

Given that due to to varying degrees of lockdown we can’t go far away from home, it is perhaps no surprise that recreational fishing is booming. Although Brisbane joyously secured the 2032 Olympics, Victoria successfully competed for a significant event (depending on your enthusiasm for fishing) of our own! The state government secured hosting rights for the 10th World Recreational Fishing Conference in 2023. Perhaps we can boast a little too – recent surveys of Port Philip by fisheries scientists have recorded the best sand flathead spawning in 24 years!! This augurs well – but how then to reconcile this with the growing litany about the neglect of our much loved and well used Bay piers by Parks Victoria? Note also that the very popular Melbourne Boat Show is now scheduled for June 2022, pandemic permitting.
https://www.melbourneinternationalboatshow.com.au


6. Boating Industry Australia – long overdue recognition
Recreational boating is a major economic driver in Victoria which has lagged behind other states for decades in terms of boating facilities and access to the water. Pleasing news from Steve Walker CEO of BIAVic July 2021 was a very exciting month for recreational boating and the boating industry in Victoria. After many years of campaigning and working with various state governments, finally the Better Boating Fund has been set up by the state government, under the watch of Minister Melissa Horne, and commenced on July 1. This will see every cent of boater fees for registration and licencing going into the Fund, and being used to best serve the interests of boating in Victoria. Minister Horne established this Fund via 2020 via legislative changes to the Marine Safety Act, and has also established a Ministerial Roundtable Advisory Group led by Better Boating Victoria, Director Katherine Grech, driving the State Boating Strategy. BBV was established to deliver the commitments funded by an unprecedented $47 million investment in boating. Hopefully this ‘re-set’ investment will result in infrastructure improvements, e.g. new, extended and improved boat ramps, dramatically increased numbers of Car Trailer Units (CTUs) at boat ramps, improved navigation aids, more boating destinations and moorings. Steve continues 95% of Victoria’s registered recreational boating fleet is trailer boats so these improvements will result in less waiting and frustration, and more people wanting to enjoy the benefits of boating on Victoria’s magnificent waterways. MMHN heartily agrees.

BBV website

7. Piers under threat
MMHN commends the work of journalist Sumeyya Ilanbey (The Age, 12 July) in raising public awareness about the parlous state of maritime heritage infrastructure. Such neglect of valuable maritime heritage is inexplicable – or is it? ‘Jewel in the crown’: Victoria missing targets on protection of historic piers”.  See:
https://www.theage.com.au/politics/victoria/jewel-in-the-crown-victoria-missing-targets-on-protection-of-historic-piers-20210711-p588n7.html

Locals lament They’re just sitting there neglected, fenced off – there’s no plan and no funding to fix them. It’s almost part of the Victorian culture now to go for a walk on a pier – it’s a pretty unique experience. We have a pristine bay. Port Phillip Bay has never been better – commercial netting has ceased, scallop dredging has ceased. Port Phillip is in the best condition it has been in our generation – why can’t Victorians be allowed to go on a pier and see that? Parks Victoria is calling it ‘end of life’ – too bad, so sadI am really concerned because every day that goes by and there’s no maintenance, a lot of piers will just disappear. The longer it goes on, the more it’s going to cost to restore these assets. It’s like if you don’t build a freeway today, it’s going to cost a lot more down the track. Sumeyya llanbey (The Age, 8 July) wrote Sir David and the sea dragon: Attenborough joins fight for Flinders pier review, directly quoting the world renown naturalist: The Victorian government has for years failed to meet its own targets on maintaining the state’s piers and jetties, prompting concerns the historic structures are being neglected and left to deteriorate. English naturalist Sir David Attenborough has now joined locals’ fight to save the 157-year-old Flinders Pier, which provides a home to the endangered weedy sea dragon.


8. Parks Victoria – neglect of maritime heritage infrastructure

In the same article by Sumeyya Ilanbet cited above, it was revealed that Parks Victoria knew for four years that the historic Flinders pier, off the Mornington Peninsula, needed urgent repairs, but failed to act and instead left the pier to worsen until last year, when it announced its demolition.

Parks Victoria is responsible for managing a diverse estate of more than 4 million hectares including 3,000 land and marine parks and reserves making up 18 per cent of Victoria’s landmass, 75 per cent of Victoria’s wetlands and 70 per cent of Victoria’s coastline. Yet is appears to have minimal interest in, or grasp of, there being value at all – social cultural or economic – in the preservation of maritime heritage, or any informed enthusiasm for maritime infrastructure at all. The most recent Parks Victoria Annual Report 2019-2020 (https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/search?search=+Annual+Report+) makes it abundantly clear that maritime matters are not high on the agenda for Parks Victoria. There is scant mention of waterways infrastructure or other relevant maritime matters anywhere. A telling example: current media reports that several heritage piers are degenerating to the point of no return, deemed unsafe. Parks Victoria would not know how well used piers are as pedestrian numbers on piers are not recorded. Maintenance is zero except on matters where public liability rears its head. No wonder piers are falling into the Bay! And what of the Point Nepean National Park, the Quarantine Station of particular significance in these pandemic days and a key maritime heritage site? Such a marvellous location through which to engage meaningfully with the public.  See https://www.parks.vic.gov.au/places-to-see/parks/point-nepean-national-park. Parks Victoria have simply looked the other way, their gaze and best efforts are, by default, directed inland.

Parks Vic Website

9. Liverpool Docks Degraded – Parallels with Central Pie
Global news headlines this month about the renowned maritime precinct of the major port city of Liverpool (UK) on the River Mersey about to lose its World Heritage status granted in 2004. See https:/www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-merseyside-57879475.

Sobering parallels can be drawn between the sorry saga of Liverpool’s degraded maritime precinct and Melbourne’s Docklands precinct, specifically regarding Central Pier and Victoria Harbour. Both, like Liverpool’s famous dock area, have been awarded significant maritime heritage status. But in 2013 Liverpool council approved a Docklands Re-development Plan worth £5.5 billion for skyscrapers, a cruise liner terminal and thousands of apartments on the Docklands site. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) warned Liverpool that such insensitive planning (particularly the Everton football stadium on heritage waterfront land) would have adverse consequences, including the possible loss of Liverpool’s World Heritage status. UNESCO said the planned developments could irreversibly damage the city’s historic Docklands Precinct, warning that Liverpool may lose the outstanding universal values for which it was granted World Heritage status in 2004. Together with outstanding universal values is of course, the ‘elephant in the room’: potential economic loss of declining property values, which are eroded over time.

Fast forward to 2011, UNESCO expressed concern that the height of planned buildings including the tallest tower outside London, which would significantly alter the skyline and fragment the dock area and threatened the heritage significance value of the city’s waterfront. There are, of course, differences today between Liverpool, recognised as a former major trading centre during the British Empire; and Melbourne, which remains a fully operational major national port city – one with a rich maritime heritage.

Fast forward again to 2021 – Liverpool Docklands is set to lose its World Heritage Status. Without question, the unique maritime heritage in Melbourne’s Docklands precinct is significant to Melbourne and to Australia as a whole. Across the globe, for example in Europe, South America, China and the USA, Docklands precincts like ours are celebrated, enhanced and genuinely valued. Yet the threat of ‘investment’ pressure from rapacious, inappropriate real estate development in Docklands continues to threaten. How perplexing it is to consider that Liverpool, granted such elevated World Heritage Status – site of the most marvellous Royal Albert Dock opened in 1846, the first structure in Britain to be built from cast iron, brick and stone, with no structural wood as well as the first non-combustible warehouse system in the world, later to feature the world’s first hydraulic cranes. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Albert_Dock,_Liverpool

Yet despite this extraordinary world-renowned maritime heritage, Liverpool appears to have succumbed to the irresistible lure of inappropriate and insensitive development. Liverpool appears to have been induced by developers to squander its maritime heritage values. Although initially reluctant to value its maritime heritage assets, Melbourne now seems, to an extent, to be ‘pausing’. A pandemic induced re-focus perhaps? A realization that Docklands developments which detract or threaten our remaining maritime heritage assets are simply ‘not on’? Maritime heritage enthusiasts are only too aware of this. There is still time for Central Pier to be sensitively restored and redeveloped; derelict wharves enclosing Victoria Harbour can be restored; ferry infrastructure to enable expanded waterway activation can be installed. With intelligent development planning in Docklands, maritime heritage can be preserved and celebrated. This will benefit us all.

Liverpool, Royal Albert Dock

10. Stella Maris Seafarers Centre
The MMHN Board thanks the generous people operating this marvellous service to seafarers in Little Collins Street which has been continuously serving the seafarers coming to our shores for so many years. The MMHN toured the CBD premises prior to the monthly Board meeting in July. By way of background: Stella Maris records reveal that services to seafarers commenced in 1889 when the St Vincent de Paul Society began visiting ships in the Port of Melbourne. Six years later, the President of the Society urged that ‘conferences’ be established in both Port Melbourne and Williamstown to look after seafarers. When the St Vincent de Paul Society celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1931, Archbishop Mannix asked that to mark the occasion a seaman’s institute be established and in 1932, premises opened at 546 Flinders Street, Melbourne. Women became involved in 1934 when ladies from the Central Telephone Exchange formed a group to help care for seafarers known later as the Stella Maris Ladies Auxiliary. The first full-time Port Chaplain was appointed in 1960 and the current Stella Maris Association was formed. Later in the 1960s, Stella Maria was gifted the current premises at 600 Little Collins Street for the purpose of constructing and operating a purpose-built seafarers’ centre. Years of fundraising followed and in 1973, the Stella Maris Seafarers’ Centre officially opened. MMHN commends those working so valiantly at Stella Maris, which remains open during COVID to assist seafarers, a particularly aggrieved group of global workers and pandemic victims. See https://www.stellamaris.org.au

Stella Maris Website – bus collecting seafarers from docks

11. Seafarers plight during COVID
The Mission of the Merchant Navy Association is to bring together seafarers past and present through meetings and communications, comradeship and support for all seafarers in Merchant Navy and fishing fleets. Good news in the Merchant Navy Association (MNA) circular, The Pulse, (May 2021) which brings heartening news for those who care about the plight of seafarers: The Dutch government has offered to include in its vaccination program Filipino seafarers serving Dutch-owned and managed oceangoing vessels. The generous offer was made during the recent bilateral meeting between the Philippines and the Netherlands. There are about 22,000 Filipino seafarers serving onboard Dutch-owned and controlled international ships and the Dutch shipowners’ association, the Royal Association of Netherlands Shipowners (KVNR), continues to provide assistance to the state-run Palompon Institute of Technology (PIT) in Leyte. It is pleasing to note other countries are also extending a similar kind gesture.

12. Cruising – Post Pandemic Denmark to reopen for cruise calls from 26 June
In a different ‘take’ on Covid safeguards, Denmark plans to reopen for cruise ships from 26 June and all guests that have been inoculated with a vaccine approved by the European Medical Association will be allowed to go onshore without any further restrictions. Turnarounds are currently possible in Copenhagen, but all 12 cruise ports across the country will be ready to receive transit calls from the reopening date. Crewmembers will only be allowed onshore if they have also been vaccinated, however, they can embark and disembark in Denmark if they are tested before, during and after the cruise. https://www.cruiseandferry.net/articles/denmark-to-reopen-for-cruise-calls-from-26-june-1

13. MMHN Maritime Museum of the Month
The Age of Fishes Museum
Consider a visit to Canowindra when COVID releases New South Wales from lockdown. Imagine a world ruled by fish! Long before the dinosaurs the mighty rivers of the Central West teamed with bizarre ancient fishes – fish with armour shells, fish with lungs, and huge predators with jaws like crocodiles. Thousands of their fossils were found at Canowindra and give a unique glimpse into the Devonian Period – the ‘Age of Fishes’.

The Canowindra fauna is a very rich Late Devonian fish fauna. All of the fossil specimens are preserved on a single bedding plane, part of an ancient fish community which had been trapped in a pool of water, which dried up, killing the fish. Incoming sediments later buried these fishes quickly and quietly, with minor disturbance to the fish skeletons. The Canowindra site is listed as part of Australia’s National Heritage because of its international scientific importance.
Slab F47L53 is fascinating. The backstory to this ‘rock’ is a fascinating take of serendipitous citizen science. This initial fossil slab was found in 1955, collected by a road worker who was working approximately 10 km west of Canowindra. During this process he unearthed a large rock slab with unusual ‘footprint-like’ impressions on it. Unaware of what he’d found, the road worker had pushed the slab to the fence, where it was later ‘rediscovered’ by local Bill (William) Simpson. Bill suspected the impressions on the slab were fossils and contacted the palaeontologist at the Australian Museum, Dr Harold Fletcher. Along with Dr Ted Rayner, Fletcher confirmed the identification and transported this slab back to the Australian Museum where it was put on display in 1966. Later it was returned to Canowindra where it now resides on show in the Age of Fish Museum.
See https://australian.museum/learn/australia-over-time/fossils/sites/canowindra/.
See https://www.ageoffishes.org.au

14. More on Dead Fishes – of the most regrettable kind
MMHN encourages maritime enthusiasts to look at the GhostNets Australia website listed below, active in Northern Australian waters. Its philosophy is simple: saltwater people working together. Everyone, from rangers to researchers, maritime enthusiasts to all who care for the marine environment, is deemed to be a saltwater person, Thousands of kilometres of discarded ‘ghostnets’ wreak havoc across the ocean. This problem must be addressed. Since 2004 Ghostnets Australia have:

  • Prevented over 14,000 abandoned, discarded or lost fishing nets from continuing their deadly journey around the ocean, where they trap and further threaten our endangered marine life by removing them from this system.
  • Rescued more than 400 marine turtles from a slow and painful death.
  • Discovered where the nets are coming from and the reasons why this sudden increase is occurring in our region.
  • Supported Indigenous rangers from 40 different clan groups to continue their stewardship of their customary lands and adjacent marine environments by providing local indigenous rangers with the much-needed resources, training in data collection and building their skills in effective decision-making and communication.
  • Found a creative re-use for the piles of rubbish that has generated into a new genre of art that has resulted in purchases by prestigious art collectors, museums and galleries around the world, and begun to work on effective solutions to this complex issue

See https://parksaustralia.gov.au/ghost-nets-initiative/
https://www.worldanimalprotection.org.au/news/australian-government-helping-tackle-plastic-fishing-nets
https://www.amsa.gov.au/news-community/news-and-media-releases/ghost-fishing
https://www.ghostnets.com.au/what-net/

15. MMHN Advocacy News

  • Maritime Skills and Skills and Training – strategic input

Board members of MMHN and OSSA met via zoom this month with senior officers from the Office of Minister Gayle Tierney. In essence this meeting was to share our serious concerns that Skills Training is lurching into an ever more serious deficit. We are attempting to counter the ‘amnesia’, which permeates the education sector in relation to maritime skills. The same type of ‘amnesia’, identified by MMHN, which has prevented due recognition of our rich maritime heritage, also seems to be ‘blind-siding’ the development of our national maritime skills capability. This deficit ‘creep’ is insidious. The diversity and scope of maritime industry careers is poorly understood within the education sector, with unfortunate flow-on effects – fewer options for careers being offered to students, supressing the demand for courses, diminishing the number of skilled teachers, therefore industry demand for skilled workers can’t be met, and the result? Off-shore recruitment of workers while our national maritime capability spirals downward. OSSA and MMHN are tackling this ever more serious problem by meeting with government to inform and influence decision-makers at all levels of government. Should any maritime enthusiast with education sector expertise please email us: info@mmhn.org.au

  • Waterways management – implementation plans

Members of the MMHN Board met via zoom this month to discuss the implementation of the Yarra River Implementation Strategy with officers from office of the Hon Lisa Neville, Minister for Water . MMHN expressed the view that the governance for properly managing our urban waterways needs urgent reform. The unwieldy multi-layered current structure impedes progress and stymies optimum use of this valuable public asset. MMHN commended those at Melbourne Water who respectfully and thoughtfully sought wide stakeholder engagement. MMHN is pleased that the views we submitted in relation to achieving due recognition of maritime heritage were incorporated in the final document – soon to be put before the Minister. If this plan is adopted then the task of implementing the plan will be determined by the Minister. We trust that Melbourne’s maritime heritage will feature in all strategic policy documents on waterways in the future.

16. Heritage Anecdotes – an invitation
MMHN is keen to receive anecdotal accounts of maritime heritage topics. This type of ‘heritage’ need not be of the most rigorous academic kind, but nonetheless we believe it be valuable. We encourage and invite you to email us with recollections, memories or knowledge of sites, artefacts, happenings etc. For example, invaluable anecdotal history of the Polly Woodside arrived recently. When members of the MMHN Board were invited to address the Port Melbourne Preservation and Historical Society in May 2021, a member of the audience kindly shared information about a long-gone relative Lyla Way who had lived in her childhood aboard the Polly. Her family were the caretakers of the vessel and this made a lasting impression on the little girl. Lyla also remembered her mother becoming sick with the bubonic plague when Lyla was about 4 years old (c.1919) and they were living on the ship. Rachel was treated by a university doctor who cured her with an experimental tablet. Action: this information was conveyed to the indefatigable Polly volunteers.
Other examples –

  • MMHN received a report about a 1930s/early 1940s boat currently out of the water, possibly built in Williamstown, with a uniquely shaped hull made of parana timber and allegedly used as a WW2 a patrol boat in Port Phillip Bay. Enquiries continue. Clues anyone?
  • Recently MMHN received a request to help facilitate re-locating a wonderfully restored RAAF Crash Boat. Quite a convoluted search ensued until the very best option emerged. The ‘deal’ is very nearly ‘done’ – but we are optimistic. We will share news on this asap.
  • A member emailed sharing his recollection of the now lost Pompei’s Boat Yard at Mordialloc – potentially a ‘lost trades and maritime precinct’ now lost to real estate development. Polperro Dolphin Swims operates in a huon pine vessel made at Pompei’s yard.

MMHN is grateful to receive any such information maritime enthusiasts care to share – it’s important to be lost. Email: info@mmhn.org.au

17. Electric and Flying Ferries – not so far away
Brittany Ferries is exploring an electric flying ferry concept – fascinating. See an interesting article here: https://www.iims.org.uk/zero-emission-seaglider-concept-being-explored-by-brittany-ferries/   and https://simpleflying.com/brittany-ferries-flying-ferries/
https://www.shippax.com/en/news/brittany-ferries-envisages-introducing-all-electric-seaglider-passenger-only-ferries-by-2028-.aspx

Drawing on the concepts for the wing-in-ground effect vehicle (WIG) advanced by Soviet and German engineers in the 1960s, a Boston-based start-up REGENT (Regional Electric Ground Effect Nautical Transport) is developing a modern, all-electric, WIG that could become a zero-emission flying ferry according to Brittany Ferries. REGENT expects the first commercial passengers to travel on smaller electric craft by 2025. Brittany Ferries has signed a Letter of Intent with REGENT to explore the potential for using electric ‘seagliders’ to transport passengers between the UK and France. See
https://www.regentcraft.com

The seagliders operate using the concept of ground effect, where high-pressure air is trapped between the wings of the craft and the ground or water while it is flying at low altitude. Following departure from port, the craft rises on foils and takes off in open waters, riding on the air cushion until it reaches its destination. Wing-mounted propellers provide the necessary thrust for the seagliders to take to the air at low speeds, while electric motors regulate air flow over wings when they are riding on the air cushion. Seagliders are expected to be able to fly from existing ferry ports at speeds of up to 180 miles per hour, with a battery-powered range of 180 miles. This would reduce the time for a journey between Portsmouth, UK and Cherbourg, France to as little as 40 minutes. Brittany Ferries plan to introduce seagliders with 50-150 passengers sailing between the UK and France by 2028. REGENT currently expects the first commercial passengers to travel on smaller electric craft by 2025.
Source: cruiseandferry, https://www.cruiseandferry.net

Brittany Ferries Website

18. Propulsion News – Reusable Steel waste
Taken as a whole steelmaking (ship building) and the maritime industry more broadly, are known to be serious ‘emitters’. Laying aside the hard to calculate percentage of pollution generated by steelmaking for shipbuilding, the data on the maritime sector is estimated at 2.5% of ALL carbon dioxide emissions. Perhaps being on the water the shipping industry slips silently under the radar. What can be done to reduce this? An EU funded project, H2020 Residual Steel gases to Methanol (FReSMe) Project, aims to demonstrate how waste carbon dioxide emissions captured from the steel industry could be used to produce methanol fuel that will be used as fuel in the maritime shipping sector: This collaboration between the steel and the maritime sectors is the first of its kind and demonstrates that by working together companies from different backgrounds can greatly improve their effect on the climate, said Erik Lewenhaupt, head of sustainability for Stena Line: For Stena Line this is another successful proof of concept for our methanol conversion ferry and a further bridge towards our aim of fossil-free shipping.
See https://www.cruiseandferry.net/articles/stena-line-becomes-first-to-use-recycled-methanol-to-power-a-ferry-1
See http://www.fresme.eu
https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/727504

19. Heritage Vessel news

  • Maintaining the vessel Enterprize in lockdown

Off-season maintenance continues as the images below show. Significant maintenance works rely upon skills and knowledge taught by the Enterprize ships’ engineer to enable the volunteers to do this crucial work. This skillset involves using traditional methods and materials from the 1800s. The major task underway commenced prior to Lockdown 5, making and installing new shrouds (standing rigging) located on each side of the mast to hold steady. Attached to the shrouds are ratlines (pronounced ‘rattlins’) which are lengths of thin ‘line’ tied between the shrouds of sailing ships to form ladders. Currently sails, all running rigging, the yards, booms and gaffs have all been removed from the ship. So too has the top mast along with the standing rigging, the shrouds and ratlines of the foremast in preparation for the replacement of the foremast shrouds and completion of the new foremast rigging. New replacement shrouds have been made in the boatshed on Collins Wharf. Ten metre lengths of hemp rope for each new shroud have been reinforced by the traditional method of worming, parceling and serving the rope – each layer being treated with Stockholm tar. All running rigging once removed from the ship is inspected, where required repaired, and dipped through hot Stockholm tar. The booms, yards and gaffs as well as the fore topmast have all been cleaned and treated with spar tar. All of this is essential maintenance on Enterpize as it was on ALL sailing ships.

Michael Womack, General Manager of the Enterprize invites anyone interested to contact him. The Enterprize is always looking for people to join the volunteer crew for both ship operations and maintenance tasks. No prior knowledge is required and Enterprize offers its volunteers a comprehensive training program – a new program is starting soon.

  • Preserving the Submarine HMAS Otama

An E-petition campaign is underweigh to persuade the state government to rescue this decommissioned Australian RAN Oberon class submarine – and itsurgent: Emergency direction: Keep your distance from listing submarine ex-HMAS Otama Mariners are advised that the Ex-HMAS OTAMA (Oberon class submarine) approximately 800 metres north of Crib Point refinery jetty in Western Port has listed significantly and has the risk of capsizing or possibly sinking imminently. You can access and sign the E-petition on: https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/council/petitions/electronic-petitions/view-e-petitions/details/12/373

Organisers fear Parks Victoria and the Port of Hastings will take the vessel away for scrap. The hope is that the vessel will be brought ashore, stabilized and made open to the public. A supporter writes: I do recall many years ago when I was a young lad, open days at Station Pier the whole weekend Navy members, their families, members of the public would line the walkways of the pier to see our nation’s navy ships. The most visited attraction was the Oberon class submarine. There was a distinct air of mystery and undeniable enthusiasm by all to see these sharks of steel that protected our nations shipping lanes from beneath the waves. This is a unique opportunity to have this project and the museum to have pride and place right near The Cradle of the Navy, HMAS Cerberus. It is only fitting that we continue to support this fine group of volunteers and dutifully request our local, state and federal government representatives to give this project its final resting place for which it had been set aside for all these years. Thank you for your hard work thus far members of the Victorian Maritime Centre, Western Port Oberon Association.

20. Williamstown Dreaming – can we make this happen?
MMHN Board member Jeff Malley is inspired by Terry Lance Secretary, Steam Boat Association of Australia (see https://www.steamboat.com.au). Terry delights in industrial maritime industrial heritage and eloquently refers to an appreciation of engineering and [those who] can see the art, beauty and heritage [found] on Cockatoo Island. He inspires us in drawing parallels between the Cockatoo Island maritime industrial complex and that which remains at Williamstown. As you read the account below, the question arises: Could the old Williamstown Naval Dockyard (now BAE) become Melbourne’s version of Cockatoo Island?

In 2019, the [Sydney] Harbour Trust spoke to the community and other stakeholders about the future of this important place. We heard that people value its many layers and stories but would like to see its untapped potential realised. Informed by this feedback, we released a Draft Concept Vision that seeks to honour the layers of cultural, natural and historical importance that make up the past and present of this place. Here is the Vision https://haveyoursay.awe.gov.au/cockatoo-island-draft-concept-vision

Should this vision be an inspiration encouraging stakeholders to demand more of our state government in relation to the re-development Williamstown? Certainly the ‘bones’, or should we say ‘steel girders’, of a major maritime industrial complex remain in Williamstown today. There is unquestionably great potential for an ambitious transformation project.



In conclusion:
There’s plenty to reflect upon in our collective quest to preserve maritime heritage in all its forms, sustain Australia’s maritime wonders, and halt the decline in our capability as a maritime nation.
May the current lockdown pass swiftly for you – do stay well

Until next month,

Kind regards
Jackie
Dr Jackie Watts OAM
Chair,
Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network
0400 305 323 or email info@mmhn.org.au

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