MMHN Update October 2021

MMHN Update October 2021Greetings

Melbourne Maritime Heritage Network is ALL about Advocacy and all about Networking in relation to matters maritime – past, present and future.

MMHN Updates try to report on any progress achieved by MMHN – all of which should be attributed to our expanding network of dedicated, enthusiastic and knowledgeable members.  Generally, we need to influence and collaborate with the very many responsible authorities and agencies so that MMHN can create and enable change.

Contents: 
(Click on the headings below for specific items, or scroll down for the full Update)
1. Good news – Grant from the English Speaking Union
2. Successful MMHN advocacy – Mission to Seafarers
3. History Council of Victoria – good news for MMHN
4. Yarra River  Business Association (YRBA) 
5. Maritime Law Association of Australia and New Zealand (MLAANZ)
6. Submarines – BIG news in Australia for many reasons. 
7. Local Submarine News
8. MMHN Museum of the Month
9. Flinders Pier – Positive step
10. Bay Dredging 
11. Maritime Workforce Deficit 
12. Sea Blindness – What is it? 
13. Vaccinating and Testing Seafarers  
14. The situation in Australia
15. The Seafaring Legal Guardian Nightmare  
16. Super Yachts 
17. Amazon 1863 Project Inc. 
18. More on Wrecks – Fishing Fleets & the Hurricane
19. Port of Darwin – the controversy continues
20. Merchant Navy – Two Wars and a Pandemic 
21. Marvelous Maritime Melbourne 
22. Sail Cargo – Carbon neutral
23. Finally – MMHN Advocacy Update

1. Good news – Grant from the English Speaking Union
MMHN is delighted to announce our successful grant application to ESU to fund an historically accurate and comprehensive narrative of marvellous maritime heritage – present and past – along the north bank of the Yarra River Birrarung. This will create attitudinal change in the public realm from Birrarung Marr to the Blue Lake. The Blue Lake, variously labelled on historic maps as the lagoon or a swamp, was excavated to become what we now know as Victoria Harbour. This permanent body of water was a major food source for Indigenous people over millennia. During the severe economic depression of the 1890s, the harbour was excavated from the drained and degraded swamp – mostly hand-dug with some steam shovels providing assistance, forever changing the topography and pattern of Indigenous life.

MMHN is most grateful for this funding which will inform, with historical rigour, public awareness of our maritime heritage – that which remains and that which has gone.

Note: This narrative, entitled Birrarung Marr to the Blue Lake, is an element of MMHN Opportunity 5 – North bank (also known as Greenline) Trail  

https://viewer.slv.vic.gov.au/?entity=IE15484865&mode=browse
Labelled at SLV as: Plan of reclamation and cultivation of Batman’s swamp / Alexander Kennedy Smith 1824-1881

2. Successful MMHN advocacy – Mission to Seafarers
Many will recall reference to MMHN advocacy in relation to the future of the Mission to Seafarers. We are pleased to report that on 21 September 2021 Melbourne City Council endorsed the recommendations from the Feasibility Study and Business Case. Certainly, the first positive step in the campaign to preserve and appropriately re-purpose this fascinating building. Council will now take the next step – engaging with the owner of the building (i.e. Treasury) who is responsible for ensuring that these heritage premises are preserved, safe and compliant. For specific details on the Feasibility Study and Business Case, see:
https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/about-council/committees-meetings/meeting-archive/MeetingAgendaItemAttachments/956/16973/SEP21%20FMC2%20AGENDA%20ITEM%206.4.pdf

Note: The iconic Norla Dome of the Mission to Seafarers (below) was originally designed as a gymnasium for seafarers to help them keep fit while on shore. It is now used for all manner of public events – seats up to 100 people for an in-the-round performance.
See https://missiontoseafarers.com.au/history/heritage-building/

3. History Council of Victoria – good news for MMHN

MMHN is delighted to have been shortlisted for the for the inaugural Jane Hansen Prize for History Advocacy, established in 2020 to recognise the efforts of a group or individual that has advocated for the value of history, the work of historians and/or the importance of education in history. The inaugural Advocacy Prize will be announced in conjunction with the HCV’s Annual Lecture in October 2021.The Heritage Council of Victoria recognises protects and celebrates Victoria’s cultural heritage. While MMHN is ‘crossing our collective fingers’ we are already thrilled to achieve this recognition for the Network approach to advocacy implanted by MMHN.

4. Yarra River  Business Association (YRBA) 
MMHN is pleased to collaborate with YRBA which is committed optimizing the inherent value of the river and enabling all to enjoy the multiple attractions of this unique waterway meandering through our city. YBA have alerted MMHN to an impressive Visit Victoria video that features our waterways – a great range of splendid images of the Yarra and Victoria Harbour.
See: https://tourismvictoria.digitalpigeon.com/msg/InytUA6tEeyChQbIWq2rQQ/qNvrbsgjorhbFrVve82JIg/file/3c14f420-0ead-11ec-8285-06c85aadab41

However, it is puzzling to see that Visit Victoria, although so evidently acknowledging the beauty of the waterways which feature so prominently in ‘branding’ Melbourne in the video, appears to ignore that which is unique to this city – our maritime heritage. MMHN continues to strive towards expanding understanding among decision-makers so that they will actually recognise that Victoria’s rich maritime heritage around the coast is a ‘Public Asset’ of immense value. YRBA also reports sadly that one of the most beautiful boats on the Lower Yarra – the Cloud 9 – a reproduction 1950s wooden speedboat, is being relocated to the Murray River.

5. Maritime Law Association of Australia and New Zealand (MLAANZ)

Maritime Law is obviously of critical importance across a wide spectrum of maritime issues – above and below the waterline. It is pleasing to see maritime heritage featuring in the MLAA newsletter ‘Semaphore’ (September 2021) with the headline Positive Moves Afoot in Melbourne to Create Enhanced Focus on Maritime History, reporting the City of Melbourne Council’s endorsement of the Feasibility and Business Case for the development of a maritime heritage area [Maritime Hub] in and around the northern bank Yarra River (or Birrarung) and Docklands in conjunction with the State Government to recognise and celebrate Melbourne’s rich maritime and seafaring history. The heritage-listed Mission to Seafarers building at North Wharf, Docklands spans 2030 square metres and currently includes a consecrated chapel, courtyard, domed room, hall and other multi-functional smaller spaces.

Although the City of Melbourne has irrefutably progressed towards Saluting Melbourne’s maritime heritage by developing a new maritime heritage trail and working with the Victorian government to redevelop the Mission to Seafarers building to breathe new life into Docklands, MMHN argues strongly, based on considerable evidence, that this trail – known as Greenline – needs to incorporate and encircle the heritage-listed Victoria Harbour. This maritime infrastructure is in reality the historical centre of Melbourne’s Docklands. Regrettably, the focus of Greenline remains on the land – not on Melbourne’s all-important waterways. The Lord Mayor said in a recent media release Greenline will create one of the largest networks of green spaces in Melbourne – delivering a premier destination for workers, tourists and residents to enjoy. New pedestrian boardwalks, parks, native plantings and a celebration of our Aboriginal heritage and culture will help to create a world-class river precinct which will attract more visitors and investment to our city.

MMHN continues staunchly, and we hope persuasively, to advocate that Greenline should rightly be extended around Victoria Harbour so that it properly represents the Indigenous presence at the ‘Blue Lake’, as well as the more recent maritime heritage. Extending the trail would incur minimal additional cost – signage only – while delivering immense community benefit and acknowledgement of the long Indigenous history around the Blue Lake. Nevertheless, given that a Maritime Hub is visaged in the vicinity of the Mission to Seafarers adjacent to Seafarers Rest Park – where there was none before, the Greenline Project must be considered a step forward.

6. Submarines – BIG news in Australia for many reasons.
So – let’s be clear about what we are all talking about when we talk about submarines. For those who may have missed this, a handy chart from the US Congressional Service, US Defence, reproduced in The Age recently:

7. Local Submarine News
The Western Port Oberon Association reports that their struggle to preserve the degraded 1976 Submarine Otama by hauling up onto the land continues. Consultants have been working on land-based plans and multiple permit applications and costs. Project President Max Bryant remains incredulous that such a community asset, with a demonstrable visitation income stream, is to be lost. He believes the cost of towage and scrapping the vessel will far exceed the cost of hauling the vessel onto land. Parks Victoria are to seize the vessel on 2 October. Max observes that the major impediment is a widespread disregard by responsible authorities in Victoria for maritime heritage assets. MMHN commiserates with those who have worked so persistently over so many years.

8. MMHN Museum of the Month
Historic Dockyard Chatham, Kent, UK
Recent references in the media to the possibility of international travel have triggered thoughts of traveling to maritime centres elsewhere. Chatham Dockyard might tempt? This splendid well-funded publicly valued and celebrated centre of maritime heritage contrasts sharply with the situation in Victoria where the plethora of ostensibly responsible authorities disregard and consequently degrade the importance of maritime heritage assets. Compare the situation of Otama and Cerberus, Blunts Boatyard and the Graving Dock at Williamstown with the high value placed on such assets in the UK, the UK National Lottery Heritage Fund notwithstanding.

Chatham Dockyard on the River Medway in Kent served the Royal Navy from the mid-16th century. It built many famous ships including HMS Victory, still the Royal Navy’s Flagship. Now a superb museum, it includes the Oberon Class submarine HMS Ocelot in one of its dry docks; the HMS Cavalier, a Second World War destroyer and HMS Gannet, a Victorian sloop. There is also a chance to see Master Ropemakers at work using centuries old techniques in the Victorian Ropery. See https://thedockyard.co.uk

A 1774 plan of the Dockyard (Wikipedia


Historic Dockyard Chatham

9. Flinders Pier – Positive step
Recently Mornington Peninsula Shire Council voted unanimously to back the retention of this pier. The decision adds impetus to the efforts of the Flinders Community Association to have the 180-metre-long timber section added to the Victorian Heritage Register. It also acknowledges the backing of environment ‘royalty’, Sir David Attenborough, who supported retention of the pier as a way of protecting the habitat of the weedy sea dragon. Charles Reis of Save Flinders Pier Group said the council vote was an important development in efforts to have Parks Victoria reconsider its plans to demolish the pier (Western Port News, September. 2021).

10. Bay Dredging
Dredging is to commence at Rye and Sorrento to enable safe access ramps and piers, deepening the channel at Rye and around Sorrento’s southern pier. Taking account of weather conditions, recreational water constraints and the migration of the spider crabs, Mornington Peninsula Shire say the works will take six weeks. Sand dredged at Rye and Sorrento will be used to replenish nearby beaches – the dark grey re-located sand may initially smell due to organic matter, but in time it will be bleach in the sun. See http://www.mpnew

Port Phillip Bay dredging in action

11. Maritime Workforce Deficit
MMHN notes with approval that in July 2020 the Queensland Government created the Maritime Jobs Taskforce to work with industry and maritime unions to remove barriers and identify practical ideas and opportunities that will grow the [maritime] industry and ‘reinvigorate’ costal shipping in order to create new maritime jobs and expand transport operations in Queensland. It is indeed heartening for all of us who care about maintaining our national maritime skills capability to see that Queensland recognises the looming maritime skills crisis and the economic potential of maritime transportation. A parliamentary committee that looked at intrastate shipping in Queensland last year found a decline in training, employment and competition. MMHN is hopeful that this proactivity by Queensland will trigger similar action in Victoria to address the same deficit – before it’s too late.
See https://statements.qld.gov.au/statements/90152

12. Sea Blindness – What is it?
A recent webinar entitled The Role of Maritime Organisations in Supporting Seafarer Welfare convened by Lloyds Register and IMarEST on the International Day of the Seafarer, 25 June 2021, explored this global affliction suffered by seafarers. ‘Sea blindness’ refers to ignorance of our island nation’s continuing dependence on the sea for food, commerce and security, and the vital role our seafarers play in all our lives. We ship food, technology, medicines, and memories. Sea transport is the backbone of global trade and the global economy. Recently a dire situation arose for countless seafarers who unexpectedly had their contracts extended and as a consequence they were unable to get home. Non-maritime people, and many government decision makers, do not seem to understand the significance of seafarers to the security and economy of Australia, and to world trade.
Seafaring is a physically, as well as mentally demanding profession. Seafarers are required to remain disciplined and professional not only during working hours but also during their spare time on board.

13. Vaccinating and Testing Seafarers 
The Crew Connect ICMA Conference reported a Seafarer COVID-19 Welfare Survey held on 2 June 2021 by the Bahamas Maritime Authority found very high levels of support from maritime organisations and seafarers themselves. Yet the vast majority, 87%, of seafarers are still unable to receive a first vaccine. In the Philippines, seafarers joining ships are prioritised for vaccination and the government ensures sufficient vaccine supply for seafarers. In India, seafarer’s families are also vaccinated. The USA vaccinates all seafarers irrespective of nationality. Vaccine is readily available for seafarers in around 50 to 60 USA ports. On the other hand, some countries have no vaccination plans. See
https://informaconnect.com/crewconnect-europe-conference/icma-connect/presenters

14. The situation in Australia
Consistent with the problematic way the vaccination roll-out has been, it is not surprising that Ports Australia (the peak industry body representing port authorities and corporations, both publicly and privately owned, at the national level) is calling on governments around Australia to consider how they can contribute to increasing vaccination rates of international seafarers. See the ITF signage below which is not language dependent: get the jab – get a certificate.
www.portsaustralia.com.au/news/mediacentre

Again, Queensland leads the way – Maritime Safety Queensland and Queensland Health announced a trial program to begin in coming weeks for vaccinating international seafarers. They are assessing the vaccination of crews from higher-risk ships regularly visiting Queensland ports against the current state and national vaccination rollout strategy, as well as considering issues like vaccine availability, feasibility in remote locations, follow-up vaccine shots, crew consent, and record keeping of vaccinations administered.” Ports Australia acknowledges the significant logistical challenges to vaccinating masses of seafarers who visit Australian ports, however there are still steps, which can be made to progress this effort. See
https://www.portsaustralia.com.au/blog/ports-australia-urges-governments-step-up-efforts-to-vaccinating-international-seafarers

Throughout the pandemic, the ability to conduct crew changeovers or for crew to take shore leave has been immensely difficult for thousands stranded on-board ships. While the situation is gradually improving locally and internationally, there are still vessels arriving in Australia with COVID-19 on-board, meaning vaccination of seafarers must be a top priority to ensure their safety, the public’s safety, and continuity of trade.

15. The Seafaring Legal Guardian Nightmare 
The Maritime Law Association of Australia and New Zealand (MLAANZ) newsletter Semaphore (September 2021) reports an extraordinary tale of hardship: End to Seafarer’s Enforced Four-Year Stay on Abandoned Ship. Mohammad Aisha had been the chief officer on-board the Bharani-flagged Aman for two months when in July 2017 Egyptian authorities detained the ship at its Suez anchorage because of expired safety equipment certification. The shipowner abandoned the vessel and an Egyptian court designated Mr Aisha as the vessel’s legal guardian effectively trapping him on the vessel until it was sold or a replacement ‘legal guardian’ was appointed. The vessel reportedly had no power, was covered in insects and rodents and Mohammad Aisha had to swim ashore for food and water or to charge his mobile phone. ITF Arab World and Iran network co-ordinator Mohamed Arrachedi, whose organisation represented Mr Aisha throughout the ordeal, said this case had been one of the most frustrating abandonment cases I have worked on. So much death and destruction had occurred in his homeland during his ‘lost’ four years. Despite his ordeal, Mr Aisha planned to resume a career in seafaring. Mohamed Arrachedi says: It is absolutely unacceptable that it is always the seafarers who are made to pay the very high costs of abandonment. Abandonment is the cancer of the maritime industry and it needs to be eradicated. The appointment of seafarers as ‘legal guardians’ is seriously problematic for seafarers finding themselves caught in the trap. This is not an isolated case.  See https://www.marineinsight

16. Super Yachts
A documentary on Super Yachting in Australia is being created by a joint venture between Superyacht Australia and Superyacht.com with investment from all the key players in the industry. A simply stunning official launch Australia InDepth ‘trailer’ was launched recently at the Monaco Yacht Show. See
https://www.superyachts.com/news/story/coming-soon-australia-indepth-trailer-launched-at-mys21-15967/?video=3175
Filming the episode focussing on Melbourne at Victoria Harbour and the City of Marina is scheduled before the end of the year – lockdown permitting.

Image: Jeff Malley, Super yachts in Victoria Harbour

17. Amazon 1863 Project Inc.
The Amazon 1863 Project Inc. committee is looking forward to an exciting gathering on the 158th anniversary of the beaching of the Amazon on the Inverloch Surf Beach on Wednesday 15 December. A 3-metre-tall Amazon artefact will be welcomed into the Inverloch Hub where other Amazon artefacts and display will be on view.

Port Bow – This appears to be the port side of the bow section, which was visible for one tide only

18. More on Wrecks – Fishing Fleets & the Hurricane
Herald Sun journalist Peter Rolfe reported on 30 August 2021 that fishing fleets have been enlisted to hunt for hundreds of shipwrecks off the Victorian coast in a new push to preserve our maritime history. The Hurricane was a three-masted iron ship of 1198 tons, built in Glasgow in 1853. On its final voyage the Hurricane left Liverpool on 12 January 1869 with 19 passengers, 27 crew and 2000 tons of general cargo, under the command of Captain D.H. Johnston. Contrary winds prolonged the voyage and Hurricane arrived off Port Phillip Heads on 21 April where Pilot Kennedy boarded, but unfavourable winds delayed the passage into Port Phillip until daylight the next day. When abreast of Point Lonsdale, the vessel’s hull briefly touched bottom. The ships carpenter found no water had entered. The vessel hove to off Queenscliff to be cleared by the health officer. During the passage up the South Channel, water was reported entering through the hawser holes; a not uncommon occurrence for the vessel. However, the pilot decided to take a course into Capel Sound, where the vessel could be anchored and then pumped dry, but time would not allow this to happen. The vessel sank, allowing just enough time for all the passengers and crew to escape into the rigging or the boats.
See https://nepeanhistoricalsociety.asn.au/hurricane-apr-22nd-1869/

The Wreck of the Hurricane – from the SLV Collection
Samuel Calvert 1828-1913, engraver.
Melbourne: Ebenezer and David Syme 22 May 1869

19. Port of Darwin – the controversy continues
Andrew Tillett writes in The Australian Financial Review, 9 September 2021 China’s grip on Darwin Port looks shaky as Australia grapples with regional security changes. The Northern Territory government’s deal to lease the Port of Darwin to Chinese company Landbridge in 2015 for 99 years is attracting renewed scrutiny See https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-05-04/port-of-darwin-chinrt is the 3rd ese-lease-us-army-peter-dutton/100112788.

You may wish to see this Landbridge video. See https://www.landbridgegroup.com.au

Darwin Port has just achieved International Standard for Maritime Pilot Organisations (ISPO) certification (22 September 2021) for its commitment to safety and quality management systems. ISPO is a standard of best practice for pilots and pilot organisations which focuses on improving safety and quality. Verified by Lloyds Register, the international accreditation is highly regarded with a certificate only awarded once strict safety guidelines have been met with Darwin Port the 30th pilot organisation to receive the accreditation. See
https://www.landbridgegroup.com.au/news/darwin-port-marine-pilots-accomplish-international-safety-certification/

20. Merchant Navy – Two Wars and a Pandemic
Don Kennedy writes in his essay A Tribute to the Merchant Navy WW2 that the name ‘Merchant Navy’ was bestowed by the British Government on all British and Commonwealth ships carrying cargoes, commodities, passenger’s merchandise and goods, by decree of the late King George V, in recognition the remarkable efforts in WW1. The British Government commemorated its merchant fleet by issuing a special Merchant Navy Medal to all the seamen who had served on ships during that war. But it was some years later that the term ‘Merchant Navy’ was officially promulgated by King George V who became ‘Master of the Merchant Navy and Fishing Fleets’. Between 1914 and 1918, Britain faced total defeat by Germany as a result of the dreadful war at sea. In WW2 the merchant navy was again targeted. The number of allied merchant ships sunk in all theatres of war was almost 5000. German U-Boat commanders were under orders to preserve their precious torpedoes for the merchant ships evading naval escort vessels so as to attack merchant ships carrying fuel, food, ammunition and other wartime supplies.
See https://www.pows-of-japan.net/articles/105.html

21. Marvelous Maritime Melbourne
MMHN Board member Jeff Malley reminds us when we can all eventually return to the streets of Melbourne, maritime enthusiasts can view a series of plaques embedded in the footpath outside the Town Hall. Significantly, the original design for the City of Melbourne crest was divided into a quadrant with each sector illustrating a source of wealth for the city: the fleece, the bull, the whale and the ship represented wool, tallow and oil, the chief exports of 1843, and their means of transport from Port Phillip at that time. Note an image of the sailing ship. In 1992 artists reinterpreted the original crest and an image of the Steam Tug Wattle replaced the sailing ship. The now-restored Wattle, a key member of our heritage fleet in Victoria Harbour, reminds us that Melbourne prospered at the transformative period in maritime history where steam propulsion superseded sail and the City of Melbourne crest is a reminder of our continued reliance on the maritime sector. In 2021 we can acknowledge afresh the significance of maritime industry to Victoria and Australia.

Note the sailing Ship                                           Plaque in footpath outside Town Hall

22. Sail Cargo – Carbon neutral
The 19-metre schooner Apollonia, built in 1946 and renovated in 2015, is delivering cargo up and down the Hudson River Valley, New York. The downriver-bound sail freight delivery schedule for Kingston, Newburgh, Ossining, Yonkers, Brooklyn and Manhattan can carry 10 tonnes and as long as customers are relaxed about a schedule, it is very successful – and one solution to being carbon neutral. Apollonia offloaded its cargo in collaboration with the Hudson River Maritime Museum. Operators insist that the venture has a commercial focus and is not merely ‘a Living History Project’. It is in response to climate issues and is part of the Sail Global Freight Movement.  See http://www.schoonerapollonia.com

23. Finally – MMHN Advocacy Update
The past month has been an extraordinarily busy period for the MMHN Board engaging with relevant responsible authorities on a range of MMHN matters including, of course, the eight stated MMHN Objectives:

1. Submissions:

  • City of Melbourne – Mission to Seafarers Feasibility Study, Greenline Northbank Trail
  • Development Victoria – Maritime Experience Centre on Central Pier
  • Freight Victoria – New Strategic Framework

2. Power Point Presentations – MMHN was invited to present to

  • Development Victoria – Victoria Harbour
  • Heritage Victoria ‒ Victoria Harbour, Greenline/Northbank
  • City of Melbourne ‒ Greenline/Northbank Project Team

3. Zoom/TEAMS meetings and Conversations

  • MAB Developers – New Quay
  • Public Records Office – Harbour Master Collections
  • Heritage Victoria – Central Pier
  • Parks Victoria – Piers
  • State Government Ministries – DELWP, Tourism Victoria, Transport Infrastructure, Treasury, Ports Freight Boating & Fishing.
  • City of Melbourne, Deputy Lord Mayor, Maritime Experience Centre
  • AFL/Disney

Finally:

A reminder. MMHN 2021 AGM, 13 October, 5pm.
Do register your intention to participate – email info@mmhn.org.au

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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