Wednesday, 28 November 2012

One day in the life of 'RTM Flinders'

This sequence were taken in the course of one working day at Namura Shipyard, the 22nd of November 2012. During this day, the Mitsubishi UEC main engine was loaded, and the two sets of topside blocks attached to enclose Hold 3.

6UEC Eco engine goes in
Into its bed in the Engine Room
Starboard topside of No.3 Hold goes on

and the Port Side

And since these photos were received, the bow and foc's'le have gone on;

'RTM Flinders' will be launched on 13th December, and join her sister 'Dias at the Fitting Out Quay. RTM Dias' will head out on sea trials on 9th December for testing and commissioning. Thanks again to Dr Paul and the KML Site Team for the great photographs.

For those in the Marine Industry and with a 'Tradewinds' login, check out the AM's entries into the '2012 Tradewinds Maritime Photographer of the Year' competition.

The Antipodean Mariner

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


I know it's a real 'cheap shot', because I'm sure their English is a truck load better than my Mandarin. However, the AM couldn't resist posting the User Instructions for a rechargeable LED helmet lamp send by a colleague in the Shipyard. The unit, an ML YAO YD-909, is actually a very good headlamp...


Thursday, 15 November 2012

Post-Panamax 'RTM Flinders'

The Antipodean Mariner's site supervision team have been sending a steady stream of progress photos and it's time to put some of them up on the Blog. The second ship, 'RTM Flinders' is about 3 months behind RTM Dias, with the first super-block comprising the engine room and No.5 Hold bulkhead going into the Dock in late October.
The first block in the Dock
No.5 Hold tank top
Poop being lifted on over the Steering Flat
With typical Japanese efficiency, her construction continues toward the dock divider where there is a 250,000 DWT ore carrier. When her hull reaches the divider, the ore carrier has to be floated out and the divider repositioned. Like her sister Dias, she will float out stern first to the Fitting Out Quay.

Up against the Dock Divider, No.5 Hold enclosed
'RTM Dias put to sea in mid-December for sea trials and delivery into service in January. Many thanks again to Dr Paul and Asanomi-san for the photos from Imari.


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Grim outlook continues for shipping - Lloyd's List

The saviour for any Blogger with 'writer's block' is to re-post articles written by professionals. I liked this one because it goes to the fundamentals of shipbuilding's capacity to renew the global fleet faster than it depreciates. The logical extension of this premise is that ships, like cars, will become technologically redundant (and scrapped) at ever younger ages.


Grim outlook continues for shipping
Sector has become a non-industry for banks that are in no rush to return

Paul Slater
Lloyd's List, Wednesday 14 November 2012

THE third quarter of 2012 has come and gone and various public company reports show the financial results continue to worsen.
As I have said many times, shipping economics is primarily driven by the economics of its customers, the ups and downs of world trade and the macroeconomics of nations for which shipping is an essential service to support their industries.
It is shipping’s ability to respond to these changes that preserves its vitality, but when shipowners get ahead of the markets for their services and order thousands of new ships without contracts for their use, they create their own economic disaster.
Manufacturing industries can stop production, and mines and other mineral producers can slow their activities when demand for their products declines.
Shipping is saddled with fleets of ships of all types and sizes which, unless sold for scrap, can trade globally for 20 years or more. New ships on average take two years to deliver from the date they are ordered and a lot can change in two years.
The cause of the boom in all markets in the middle of the last decade was China’s surging economy. However, although China’s economy is not centralised, its policies are, while its industrial economics are driven regionally.
Thus the extraordinary growth in China’s regional demand for shipping services exceeded the overall requirement, as individual industries needing shipping were themselves governed by the demand for their products, mostly from outside China.
Put simply, China’s own recession was caused by the recessions in Europe and then the US, and Beijing’s new government is unlikely to stimulate its industries financially until the other nations’ economies recover.
Shipowners old and new took advantage of the ignorance of equity investors and the carelessness of the banks to order thousands of new ships of all types.
The abundant supply of public equity acted like a magnet to banks, which grossly overlent to shipping companies to order more and more new ships. These could only be paid for if the freight markets expanded above and beyond the unprecedented levels of 2005 and remained there for another decade.
Worse still, shipyards — mainly in South Korea and China — expanded their capacity to double the levels of the late 1990s and today can statistically replace the world fleet every seven years.
The results of all this are clearly and painfully seen today.
Except for shipping companies in smaller markets or those with ships on long-term charters, as in most of the liquefied natural gas fleet, most are losing money every day.
Bankruptcies and restructurings are the daily norm: “too big to fail” is a mantra that does not exist in shipping. Past collapses in the 1970s and 1980s show that fleet size is no protection if the charter revenues are not there.
Few, if any, public shipping companies have any franchise or goodwill value, and today most have little or no remaining equity value.
As an investment, shipping is viewed today as one of the worst industries and, despite the vitality of the services it provides, it will take a long time for investors to return.
The very recent collapse of Overseas Shipholding Group’s share price, which dropped 90% from its high in 2008 to October 1 this year, then fell a further 80% in the rest of October, leaves a market capital value of only $38m from its five-year high of $2.7bn.
Torm, another very large tanker company, has undergone major restructuring. Its banks now own 90% of a company that in 2008 had an MCV of $3bn. It will probably liquidate its fleet under bank governance.
Another major failure has been Excel Maritime, partly owned by the former major shareholder of Torm. Its peak MCV in October 2007 reached $7bn and it is now just $35m.
There are numerous other public companies whose values have collapsed and that operate under a mountain of debt that greatly exceeds the market values of their assets.
Behind the scenes, numerous private companies are facing similar problems. Even the major Asian owners are reporting sharply reduced revenues and growing losses.
As with all previous market collapses in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s the shipping landscape changes and the recoveries take longer than upturns.
We still have a way to go before sustained recovery in freight markets is seen. Some are saying the capacity of the wet and dry fleets will need to contract by at least 30% for it to begin.
The container sector was looking to cope with the dramatic increase in ship sizes when the overall demand for slot spaces began to decline.
Today there are more containerships laid up than at any time before, yet the orderbook for jumbo-sized ships still shows a 50% increase by the end of 2013.
Companies such as Seaspan may reduce or defer some of their huge newbuilding programme as their customers face the problems that oversupply is causing.
Some factors may assist fleet reduction over the next few years, however.
The experience of investors in publicly traded shipping companies is as bad as the collapse of the bubble. Institutional investors are totally absent and short-term traders are very disillusioned.
The shipping banks are all carrying large amounts of non-performing debt, much of which will soon fail altogether. Thus shipping is a non-industry for most banks and it will be a long time before they return.
Private equity is also in short supply, demanding unachievable returns and short-term exit strategies that will mostly not occur.
In summary, there is no new money for new tonnage unless it is covered by charter contracts with real end-users.
The shipyards are already looking at a near 50% reduction in orders from a few years ago and, despite a significant reduction in prices, face further reductions.
The eventual outcome will be smaller fleets of more fuel-efficient ships that can trade profitably in the markets of post-recession economies, but these are far away.
The problems of today’s oversupply of ships will continue to haunt the industry for several more years.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


Turangawaewae* is a Maori word, a beautiful word which describes both a concept and a sense of well-being.

Defined in the Encyclopedia of New Zealand literally, tūranga (standing place) and waewae (feet) is often translated as ‘a place to stand’. Tūrangawaewae are places where New Zealanders, Maori and Pakeha, feel especially empowered and connected. They are our foundation, our place in the world, our home. In the concept of tūrangawaewae, the external world is a reflection of an inner sense of security and foundation. The mountains, rivers and waterways to which one can claim a relationship, also express this internal sense of foundation.

The Antipodean Mariner returned to New Zealand last week for a shipmates reunion, the Apprenticed Cadets of the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand. The USSCo. is no more, but was as great a force of national economic development as QANTAS is to Australia or Maersk Line is to Denmark. It was with some irony that of the seven Cadets who signed indentures in December 1977, the AM is the only one not currently sailing (though two of the AM's shipmates have recently revalidated and gone back to sea in the Offshore Industry). One of the seven was Captain Kevin J., Master of the 'Go Canopus' during the Rena salvage operation. Like the old saying goes "the older we get, the better we were".

The trip back to New Zealand provided an opportunity to reconnect on two levels. On the first level, it was renewing the deep friendships formed by a common experience. At the second level, it was a re-connection with the beauty of the country where the AM was born, worked and raised a family - my turangawaewae.

To some extent I had written off New Zealand as too small, too slow and too far away from the reality of my life now in Melbourne. But six days and 1,400 km around Napier, Gisborne, the Bay of Plenty and the Coromandel Peninsular on a borrowed BMW has changed that perception and I feel reconnected with (and maybe even a little homesick for) the place where people talk like me.

Australia is where I live but New Zealand is my turangawaewae.

The Antipodean Mariner

*Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal. 'Papatūānuku – the land - Tūrangawaewae – a place to stand', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 1-Mar-09.