Link is paywalled so I cut and paste the entire article which I thought interesting.
Also interesting is the attitude of Australia’s most militant union, The Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), criticising the use of foreign crews for Australian resupply missions whilst we await our new vessel under construction. The criticism seems to suggest their super-duper members would never let a ship catch fire or somesuch.
A portside engine room fire on the MPV Everest on Monday. Picture: The Australian Antarctic Division
- 25 MINUTES AGO APRIL 8, 2021
- 21 COMMENTS
A support vessel will be sent to back-up a stricken Antarctic resupply vessel with 109 people on board, after a “very serious” fire engulfed one of its engine rooms.
The Australian Antarctic Division and the European-based owners of the MPV Everest are scrambling to send a vessel from Western Australia to join the damaged ice-strengthened ship.
“The Everest is not in distress, however, we think it would prudent to send a second vessel,” said Charlton Clark, AAD general manager (operations), on Thursday.
“We are mindful that for the people on board … it has been a very stressful situation and having a vessel on the horizon… will hopefully provide some reassurance to them.
“This is a very serious incident…The fire engulfed the engine room and it also destroyed two small (6m-long inflatable) vessels on the deck of the ship.”
The fire in the port engine room on Monday sent flames through to the deck of the ship, . Picture: The Australian Antarctic Division
The fire in the port engine room on Monday sent flames through to the deck of the ship, which is on charter pending arrival of Australia’s new icebreaker, the Nuyina.
Adding to the drama for the expeditioners and crew on board, late on Wednesday the ship’s remaining engine was stopped for an hour to allow replacement of a part.
During the shutdown, the sea height was 4m, with a westerly swell of 5m, leading to what was described as “a bit of rock and roll”.
There were no injuries in the fire, but the Maritime Union of Australia and Labor expressed concern, given that it was the second fire to occur on the vessel this year.
A small fire occurred in a battery compartment on a voyage to Casey Station in January.
The use of the ship, which is foreign crewed, has been controversial, with the MUA arguing the AAD should have instead retained its former icebreaker, the Australian-crewed Aurora Australis, while awaiting Nuyina’s delivery.
Mr Clark said it would take “some days” to organise a support vessel to reach the Everest, which was almost 1200 nautical miles south of Fremantle, where it is expected to dock in the middle of next week.
The MPV Everest. Picture: Lauren Wise
The ship – returning from resupply of Davis and Mawson Antarctic stations – was due to return to the port of Hobart, completing the Antarctic resupply season.
However, it has been directed to Fremantle, given its reliance only one of two engine rooms and expected poor weather conditions.
Labor infrastructure spokeswoman Carol Brown said she had written to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau to ensure its investigation of the incident includes “the issues of contracting, crewing and crew experience”.
Mr Clark said the crew were all experienced and had polar qualifications, while the ship’s master had Antarctic experience.
Senior MUA Tasmanian official Alisha Bull was not placated by AAD’s assurances. “We remain concerned about the use of a foreign crew, which is overwhelmingly made up of seafarers with no or limited Antarctic experience, when Australian seafarers with decades of experience from the Aurora Australis were available,” Ms Bull told The Australian.
“These kind of incidents highlight why having the most skilled and experienced crew — rather than the cheapest — is so important.”
Matthew Denholm is a multi-award winning journalist with more than 30 years’ experience. He has been a senior writer and Tasmania correspondent for The Australian since 2004, and has previously worked for newsp… Read more