Monday, July 23, 2018
Encounter Bay

In 2019 we will mark the 50th Anniversary of the arrival of the first oceangoing container ship, the Overseas Containers Limited (OCL) 27,000 gross ton, 1,900 twenty-foot equivalent units (teu) capacity Encounter Bay to the Australian coast.

This event introduced the beginning of the container revolution, not only to Australia but, eventually, to other major destinations around the world. Stemming from this revolution came the term ‘Globalisation’. Today, vast volumes of cargo of every description are transported around the world in containers between trading partners.

To give some idea of how containerisation has affected global trade in the past fifty years, the World Shipping Council’s statistics indicate that the top fifty container ports in the world handled approximately 445 million teu (loaded + empties) in 2015. In Australia, a total of 5 million teu, comprising 3.6 million full + 1.4 million empties, was handled in 2014/2015.

The size of container vessels has increased beyond imagination over this period. In 1969, the Encounter Bay with its capacity of 1,578 teus was looked upon as ‘huge’ when compared to the overall size and capacity of the average conventional vessel at the time. Today in 2017, Maersk, CGM CMA and MSC are introducing vessels onto the berth between Europe and Asia with individual capacities in excess of 20,000 teu!

But this revolution did not happen overnight. To gain a wider appreciation of the effect of this revolution on the trade between Europe and Australia, we need to look at its history.

1870 TO 1918
From 1870 onwards, two major developments affected the trade between Europe and Australia. Firstly, the opening of the Suez Canal which greatly reduced voyage times between opposite ends of the globe and, secondly, development of marine refrigeration which allowed safe and successful carriage of meat from Australia to Europe. During the first decade of the 1900s, Australia shipped approximately 42,600 tonnes of Beef, and 264,000 tonnes of mutton and lamb, to the United Kingdom.

By 1900, eleven British, one French and two German shipping lines were operating regular services between Europe and Australia. But the scramble by shipping lines to service this trade brought about its own problems. Chaotic scheduling of vessels and inconsistent rate-setting created difficulties for Australian shippers, who increasingly demanded regular and reliable services to ship their products to Europe. From this unsatisfactory situation emerged the first shipping conference to be formed in Australia, by fourteen lines already servicing this trade. On 17th July, 1912, the first meeting of the Oversea Shipping Representatives’ Association (OSRA) was held at the offices of P&O in Sydney.

In the same year, Australian exports to Britain/ Europe represented 79% in value of total exports from Australia. The remaining 21% went to USA, Canada, Japan and other Asian countries.

From the commencement of the First World War in 1914, the British Government continued to purchase Australian produce, particularly wool and wheat. However, although the Government had assumed control of merchant shipping, they did not have the power to direct shipowners. As a consequence, vessels that previously had been engaged in the Australia to Europe trade were switched to shorter, more profitable trade routes, such as trans-Atlantic. Less numerous and efficient ships were used on the Australian route, which led to the clogging up of wharves at the exporting ports.

Billy Hughes, who became Australia’s Prime Minister in 1915, visited Britain to persuade the Government to allocate more tonnage to lift Australian product. His efforts with both the Government and British shipowners came to naught, and Hughes immediately purchased fifteen British-built vessels which were registered under the name The Commonwealth Line.

1920S TO WORLD WAR II
By early 1923, Commonwealth Line, renamed The Australian Commonwealth Line, was already operating a total of 54 vessels. In the same year, Hughes was replaced as Prime Minister by Stanley Bruce who viewed the Line as a financial liability for the Federal Government, due to high crewing costs, as well as an unfair competitor to private shipowners.

In 1926, value of exports to Britain and Europe represented 69% of the total value of Australian exports. Two years later, the Bruce Government sold off Australian Commonwealth Line, including the sister-ships Esperance Bay, Hobsons Bay, Jervis Bay, Largs Bay and Moreton Bay. Some of these ship names were to reemerge forty years later with the advent of containerisation.

The vessels, each of 14,000 gt, had been built in Britain during the early 1920s, As well as cargo, they could also accommodate up to 700 passengers. All five were sold to White Star Line, thence to the Aberdeen Line. A year after the collapse of Aberdeen Line, in 1933, they were sold to Shaw Savill & Albion . In 1934, the Furness Group absorbed Shaw Savill.

In 1929, Australian Oversea Transport Association (AOTA) was formed to represent producers, exporters, wool buyers, importers and the OSRA member lines, who represented shipowners. AOTA was requested by the new Prime Minister, James Scullin, to provide him with proposals that would identify its future direction.

Read the rest of this article with additional pictures in Sea Breezes Magazine - February 2018 Issue
Click here to subscribe

Subscribe Graphic

Latest Issue - Look Inside!

Nexus

Most Popular

  • By Brittany Ferries from Ireland to Spain +

  • Upgrade Planned for Russia’s Only Aircraft Carrier +

  • Irish Ferries’ New Fast Craft Enters Service +

  • Dutch Superyacht Yards Set New Records +

  • Bridge Crews ‘Formed Different Views’ +

  • 1
  • 2

Top 10 Books and DVDs 2017

Maritime Log

  • Focus on Giant Saudi Arabia Complex +

    Ras Al Khair The International Maritime Industries giant shipyard complex at Ras Al Khair, on the Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia, will come Read More
  • Bridge Crews ‘Formed Different Views’ +

    Huayang Endeavour Seafrontier Conflicting views as to what had been agreed between the bridge teams of one ship overtaking another in the Dover Read More
  • Ship Completes Work on Irish Sea Windfarm +

    Seajacks Scylla In mid-May, the largest jack-up vessel operated by the windfarm installation company Seajacks UK, of Gt Yarmouth, completed work on Read More
  • Special Heavy Lifts for Tyne Jackets +

    Aegir Five highly-complex heavy lifts have taken place on the Tyne by the Dutch deepsea heavy lift ship Aegir, 50,228gt, operated Read More
  • Runaway Barge Crosses North Atlantic +

    Malik I The Ballyglass RNLI lifeboat had an unusual vessel to deal with on the evening of May 14. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

North America

  • Seabed Mining Venture Starts from California +

    Maersk Launcher The Maersk Group, of Denmark, has ventured into seabed mining. Read More
  • Cranes Boost Capacity of Elizabeth Terminal +

    Zhen Hua 20 Four new giant gantry cranes arrived at APM Terminals at Elizabeth, New York, at the end of April as part Read More
  • Tanker Holed in Collision off New York +

    Tofteviken A Norwegian tanker suffered a 30ft long gash in her hull in a collision with a fishing vessel off New Read More
  • Appeal Over Developing New Master Plan +

    Enterprise To operate in California, ports must have a master plan approved by the California Coastal Commission that guides their development Read More
  • Shipyard Prepares Carrier for Laying Up +

    Enterprise In April, the Newport News Shipbuilding division of Huntington Ingalls Industries completed the inactivation of the former US Navy aircraft Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Asia-Pacific

  • Union Appeals for Jobs at Port Kembla LNG Choice +

    Port Kembla The first liquefied natural gas import terminal in New South Wales, Australia, is to be built at Port Kembla by Read More
  • China Set to Ban Foreign Ships from Breaking Yards +

    Chittagong Shipbreaking Yard China is to ban overseas ships being broken up at its demolition yards from the start of next year. Read More
  • Carnival Wins Conditional Approval for Terminal +

    Brisbane Cruise Terminal Model The plan by the world’s largest cruise ship operator, the Carnival Group, of Miami, to build an Au$158mn cruise terminal Read More
  • Training Ship Set to Berth on Campus +

    MOL Marine Academy Next month, a new maritime academy will be opened in the Philippines by the Japanese shipping company Mitsui OSK Lines Read More
  • Kotug Takes Over Joint Venture Australian Tugs Firm +

    KT Maritime Tug Kotug Australia has acquired the Teekay Shipping Australia half of their joint towage venture KT Maritime Services. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Naval Focus

  • Upgrade Planned for Russia’s Only Aircraft Carrier +

    Admiral Kuznetsov Russian News Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, will be refitted to prolong the warship’s operational life. Read More
  • HMS “Astute” in Cat-And-Mouse Pursuit by Russian Ships +

    HMS Astute British News Ahead of the American led missile strikes against suspected chemical weapon manufacturing plants in Syria in early April, Read More
  • Busy Period for Japanese Navy +

    JS Asahi Japanese News It has been a particularly busy period for the Japanese with a number of new vessels being accepted Read More
  • Historic Port Visit to Vietnam +

    USS Carl Vinson US News In a significant move in March, the nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson made an historic port Read More
  • Russian Minesweeper Fleet Expands +

    Alexander Obukhov Russian News By 2027 the Russian Federation Navy is expected to have acquired a total of ten Alexandrit class minesweepers Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ferry World

  • Stena Confirms Three E-Flexers for the Irish Sea +

    Stena E-Flexer Stena Line has confirmed that the first of its new RoPax ferries currently under construction in China is planned to Read More
  • By Brittany Ferries from Ireland to Spain +

    Connemara As Irish Ferries ramps up its Dublin to Cherbourg service with the arrival of the new purpose-built WB Yeats, Brittany Read More
  • Transport Scotland Buys Northern Isles Ropax Trio +

    Hamnavoe The Hamnavoe, Hrossey and Hjaltland had previously been chartered by Transport Scotland from Royal Bank of Scotland and operated by Read More
  • Irish Ferries’ New Fast Craft Enters Service +

    Dublin Swift Irish Ferries has introduced the fast ferry Dublin Swift into service between Dublin and Holyhead, the 101m craft becoming the Read More
  • St Helena Finishes Career +

    RMS St Helena At last, after much delay, subsequent to the construction of the new airport on St Helena, the island’s namesake ship Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Sail Review/Coastal Comment

  • New Bridge Challenges Melissa +

    Melissa The organisers of the charter barges working from Ipswich are worried by plans to build a road bridge across the Read More
  • German Schooners +

    Thor Heyerdahl Two German schooners based at Hamburg are regularly making voyages under sail with general cargoes across the Atlantic. Read More
  • RFA Pearleaf +

    RFA Pearleaf Thanks to Orkney Image Library for this view of the RFA Pearleaf. Read More
  • Nostalgic for Oil Fuel Depots +

    BP Distributor A collection of fine images of coastal tankers delivering fuel to the Southern Scottish town of Kirkcudbright took my eye. Read More
  • The Benefits of Wheel Spokes +

    Will Everard The Anna (see the print edition for details), like all Dutch craft, has a band around the outside of her Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

From the Lookout

  • P&O Ferries Set to Lift Capacity at Teesport +

    Bore Song In May 2018, P&O Ferries announced that it plans to lift capacity on its Zeebrugge-Teesport route by almost 25 per Read More
  • New Generation of RoRo’s by Knud E. Hansen for Grimaldi +

    Grimaldi Hybrid Over many years Knud E. Hansen has been one of the world’s leaders in terms of ship design, with a Read More
  • Isle of Man Steam Packet to be Taken Into Public Ownership +

    Ben my Chree Manannan The news of the Isle of Man Government’s acquisition of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company announced in May, Read More
  • Major Marine Fabrication Returns to Southampton +

    SMS Pontoon Good positive news from Southampton where marine engineering services firm SMS is, presently, midway through a contract to build three Read More
  • ITF Inspectors Help Repatriate Ukrainian Seafarers +

    Avonmore Crew In this, the second decade of the 21st century, I am still often astonished, saddened and angered by the treatment Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Cruise News/Superyacht News

  • The Way Towards Superyacht Ownership +

    Monaco Yacht Show When it comes to buying a superyacht, mostly owners will start with smaller yachts and progress in overall length towards Read More
  • Dutch Superyacht Yards Set New Records +

    Irisha The steady stream of superyachts being launched in Holland is a very visible sign of the prominence of the Dutch Read More
  • ‘Ten Pound Poms’ . . . The Emigration Boom to Australia After WWII +

    New Australia With the cessation of hostilities after the end of WW2 in 1945, a number of Immigration Schemes were introduced by Read More
  • Symphony of Light Hong Kong +

    Symphony of Lights Cruise passengers on a vessel that includes Hong Kong within their itinerary, may have witnessed Hong Kong’s ‘A Symphony of Read More
  • "QE2" Comes to Life Again +

    QE2 in Dubai There will be many readers who, for the last decade, have followed the fortunes of the Queen Elizabeth 2. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ships, Ports and Places

MV Forrest

MV "Forrest" - Celebrating 50 Years of Service

Ever since the early days of the 19th century, the Falkland Islands have always had a shipping service both within Read More
SS Hellas Liberty

A Venerable Veteran - SS Hellas Liberty

Lovers of the traditional merchant navy visiting Piraeus should not fail to view the museum steamer SS Hellas Liberty. The Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Companies, Events and Other Features

Hjaltland

Safmarine Memories

With around three-quarters of the Safmarine fleet trading between South Africa and the UK in 1967, the year in which Read More
Wahine

Murray Robinson 1955~2018

Since our acquisition of Sea Breezes in 2008, one of the strengths of this magazine, which I first read as Read More
  • 1
  • 2