Thursday, April 27, 2017


Special   by   Australia's  only  S(h)ipping  Reporter

As  a  regular  early morning ferry   from Magnetic  Island  approached  the  Townsville breakwater , the   vessel  slowed , veered  away  slightly . Soon after  it  was   announced  a  ship  was  leaving  port  and  no  entry  was  allowed . So  there  the  ferry was - as  idle  as  a  pointed  ship  upon  a   painted  ocean,  on a  fine  day for fishing , on  a very high  tide.
 Slowly being  nudged away from   its  berth   by two  tugs was   the above  Marshall Islands  registered  tanker  Flagship  Sage . A much travelled  passenger standing on the  rear deck of the  wallowing   ferry  remarked  that  Hong  Kong   would  not close down to  all other shipping  and fishing   boats    just   because  one   vessel   was   leaving   port .

Alongside   was  an  obvious  livestock  carrier , the Panama  registered  Dareen , below , capable of carrying 8000 cattle , one of   four  such vessels  operated  by Livestock  Shipping Services (LSS)  on  a  regular  basis  in  the  Australian  trade.

The  other carriers on the run   are   Ghena  ( 85,000 sheep or 18,000 cattle and 16,000 sheep ) , Bader lll (110,000 sheep or  75,000 sheep and  10,000 cattle )  and Maysora   ( 110,000 sheep or  12,000  cattle ).    

LSS  states  it is  one of the largest  live export companies  in the southern hemisphere which operates  from all states  of  Australia   to Egypt, Israel, Palestine , Jordan , Kuwait , United Arab Emirates , Libya, Russia , Kazakhstan  and Turkey .

Could be an interesting story  here, but  the port city of  Townsville seems to have   exported  all   shipping  reporters long  ago .  Just  along  from  Dareen  was  a   bulk carrier   which  could   make  a  ripper of  a  yarn   for  any adventurous  member of  the  local press  gang. It  is the   oddly named   cargo  ship  Laconic , below. 

According to the dictionary , the  adjective laconic  ,  derived   from   Greek ,  means  using  few words , concise . And  it  seems Laconian  applied    to    warlike Spartans,   noted  for   brief  and  pithy statements before  they  jabbed  you  with  a long  spear called a  Dory , or hacked you  with  a  short   sword .  There  is  a statue of  King Leonidas l , clad in armour, brandishing such  a  sword ,  who  led  the  Spartan army at  the Battle of  Thermopylae .

 And shiver  me  timbers , the good ship  Laconic  sails under  a  Greek flag .  Any brave local scribe   with  an  understanding of  English  prepared  to  actually venture down to the waterfront    and   board  the  Laconic might  find  it  is  crewed by  Greek  wrestlers,  grunting  weight  lifters  and   terse   marathon  runners .

 Another vessel with a  catchy name- Zenith Explorer, a bulk carrier  - also  attracted  attention because it seemed to  be actually flying  the  Australian flag , a rarity on  Australian   coastal vessels  , but  it  seems  to  be  registered  in  Panama .  All  this  shipping activity in  port  under a relentless sun and  not  a  drop  to  drink , or  in  print - except  for  this  nautically minded  blog .

While lolling  about  on  the wallowing  ferry , our  waterfront   roundsman  took  this  art  deco  snap  of  the  vessel's  stern .  The  11.30 am ferry from  Townsville  to Magnetic Island  seemed to  lose propulsion  near  the island and slowly made its  way into the  safe harbour , no  announcement . It  is  all  happening  on the waterfront . NEXT :Another exclusive S(h)ipping  Reporter's  post about  Townsville   and   Australia's  shame .