Port Kembla's reigning Monarch returns home

By Matt Jones
Updated November 6 2012 - 2:09am, first published May 31 2011 - 6:48am
Port Kembla's reigning Monarch returns home
Port Kembla's reigning Monarch returns home

One of the oldest faces in Port Kembla steamed into harbour yesterday morning, fresh from a two-month spruce-up in Asia.Hours of driving rain took a momentary pause for the arrival of the MV Iron Monarch, a 10,584 tonne ‘‘roll-on roll-off’’ vessel that ferries steel slabs from Port Kembla to BlueScope’s Western Port hot strip mill in Victoria.The vessel is a familiar sight to many in the Illawarra, having completed the 4 1/2 day return trip to Western Port week after week for more than 30 years.But three decades is a long time to go without a holiday and so in March the Monarch departed for Singapore’s Sembawang Shipyard, where she spent 60 days undergoing a $17 million overhaul.Aside from a fresh coat of navy blue paint, experts in Singapore also upgraded or replaced much of the vessel’s wiring and overhauled its propeller pitch control, winches, ramp and stern door, through which a million tonnes of slabs a year are loaded.GALLERY: MV Iron Monarch arrives in Port KemblaThe ship’s master, Captain Cameron Crampton, said much of the work had been focused on the Monarch’s engines, which push the ship to a cruising speed of 16.5 knots.‘‘The main improvement was the engine control systems, we upgraded all our bridge engine interfaces and main engine control systems,’’ he said.‘‘She’s 38 years old...which is older than me,’’ Capt Crampton laughed.‘‘It’s in very, very good condition for a 38-year-old ship.’’Built at a reported cost of $12 million in BHP’s Whyalla shipyards in 1973, the present Monarch is the third vessel to carry that title.Registered in Melbourne, the Monarch is managed by Australian firm Teekay Marine Services and is crewed entirely by Australians.Steel delivered by the vessel supplies the metal coating and painting lines that support Australia’s automotive and building industry in Victoria and South Australia.

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