Gold Ribbon Banner
Monday, January 20, 2020
Iron Pacific

The bulk carrier MV Iron Pacific was the biggest ship registered to an Australian company at the time of this incident. The origins of BHP (the Broken Hill Proprietary Company) go back to the the silver, lead and zinc mines the company developed at Broken Hill in New South Wales during the late-1800s. By around 1917, BHP had established a steelworks at Newcastle in the state, and eventually sold its metal mines to other interests. To transport its raw materials, BHP subsequently established a shipping division that became a behemoth in the commodities maritime trades. It’s now known as BHP Billiton Transport & Logistics.

The bulk carrier Iron Pacific was built for BHP by Samsung Shipbuilding and Heavy Industries Company Ltd at Koje, Korea, where the hull was launched on 1st August, 1986. Iron Pacific was registered at Melbourne as IMO 851597 and call sign VJDI. She was 315.02 metres long, and 55.73 metres beam, with nine holds and 231,851 tonnes deadweight. With a design requirement that the ship should be capable of accessing the rather restricted harbours of Newcastle and Port Kembla, a unique twinskeg design was selected. Each of the skegs had sizeable bulbs and the twin-screw design with controllable pitch propellers provided excellent manoeuvrability without the need for bow thrusters. When built the Iron Pacific was the largest twin-screw vessel in the world.

The ship’s engine room accommodated two Sulzer 4RTA84 two-stroke, 840 mm bore by 2,400 mm stroke, single-acting diesel main engines. The engines were built by Ishikawajima Harima Heavy Industries of Japan, and each drove a Lips variable-pitch propeller. At 74 rpm, the engines were rated at 9,120 kilowatts each, and when operated at 70 rpm they developed 7,862 kw each. The service speed was 14.25 echo sounder and Raytheon weather facsimile were installed. Marconi satellite communications, radio direction finder and radio equipment were also fitted. Full bridge control of the main machinery was installed allowing for unmanned machinery operation. The machinery was controlled by a Racal Marine automation system that according to those who sailed on the ship gave considerable trouble in operation.

Iron Pacific was built to carry cargoes from Australia to the Far East and, on the return leg, iron ore from Port Hedland to the BHP’s own works at Port Kembla and Newcastle. The voyage pattern became known as the “Triangle Run” and, in 2000, another vessel was built named the Pacific Triangle. The vessel also loaded coal in NSW and Queensland, including Port Kembla, Newcastle and Dalrymple Bay/ Hay Point for delivery to South Korean steel works at Pohang and Kwangyang Bay. On a typical voyage, the ship would load around 180,000 tonnes of coal, though one of the largest cargoes carried was of about 207,000 tonnes that was discharged in just three days using five grabs.

ERUPTION
The story is continued by Mr Brian Moncrieff, who was serving on the ship as Third Engineer at the time of the eruption: -

Due to the size of the ship, there were only a limited number of dry docks able to accommodate her. Therefore, when the five-year docking came due, she was booked into the Subic Bay, Philippines dry dock, and arrived at Subic Bay early in June 1991. The ship was successfully installed in the dock on blocks that had to be especially arranged to cater for the stern propulsion skegs. Underwater fittings were removed for survey. One of the propellers was being readied for removal when Mount Pinatubo, 40 kilometres away, started to show signs of a imminent serious eruption. As the signs became more ominous, the dockyard staff fled the site leaving the ship’s crew to its fate.

An initial eruption occurred two days prior to the major eruption. A light sprinkling of white volcanic ash was just a prelude to what none of us had ever experienced before. It was certainly not an experience that a seafarer normally encounters. When the major eruption occurred on 15 June, 1991, the dock buildings and the ship were covered in a large quantity of ash. The ship’s crew had awakened to daylight, but this disappeared completely at 0800 until the following day. When daylight eventually returned it revealed a muchchanged landscape – from lush green vegetation to a grey ash-covered mess. The second day also witnessed arrival of typhoon Yunya (Philippines typhoon Diding) which brought torrential rain. The eruption resulted in the ship being covered in six inches of ash and pumice, with an estimated weight of 7,000 tonnes. The heavy rain turned the volcanic ash into a sodden mess. The ash atop the dockyard buildings absorbed so much water that it caused the buildings to collapse.

The eruption of Mount Pinatubo was the second largest volcanic eruption during the 20th century, and, over five cubic kilometres of material was ejected into the atmosphere.

At sea it’s second nature for a seafarer to feel the movement of a ship on the water, but the 250-plus earth tremors encountered on eruption day, and the movement and shaking of the ship whilst resting on docking blocks, was quite unnerving. The earthquakes gave quite a concern to all because of the effect it might have on the dock caisson, and whether it would withstand the sea pressure in the face of the seismic activity.

Read the rest of this article with additional pictures in Sea Breezes Magazine - March 2019 Issue
Click here to subscribe

Subscribe Graphic

Latest Issue - Look Inside!

Boudicca

Most Popular

Latest Products

Maritime Log

  • RNLI to Cut 135 Jobs +

    RNLI TO CUT 135 JOBS AS GREATER ‘EFFICIENCY NEEDS FEWER PEOPLE’ Read More
  • Twenty Years of Cruise Ships +

    Twenty Years of Cruise Ships ON AUG 30, the Port of Tyne celebrated 20 years of cruise ship travel. Read More
  • Race Through Horrendous Seas to Aid Fishing Vessel +

    Race Through Horrendous Seas to Aid Fishing Vessel ON THE afternoon of Aug 30, a fishing vessel reported to the Coastguard that she had lost power near Peterhead, Read More
  • RAF Chinooks Arrive by Sea From us and Fly to Their Base From Quayside +

    RAF Chinooks Arrive by Sea THE Atlantic Container Line (ACL) won a contract from Boeing Defence UK to transport seven Chinook helicopters across the Atlantic Read More
  • Launch of a Unique Memorial to a Memory +

    Launch of a Unique Memorial to a Memory THE NEW Invergordon Shannon class lifeboat which enters service next spring will feature the names of thousands of people in Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

North America

  • Tanker Returns to Shipyard After Hurricane +

    Tanker Returns to Shipyard After Hurricane The Grand Bahama Shipyard (GBS) officially resumed operations and welcomed back its first commercial vessel following Hurricane Dorian. Read More
  • Boost for Area's Exports and Jobs Forecast +

    Port of Morrow in Oregon THE EXTENSION of the barge service at the port of Morrow, in Oregon, is one of only three projects on Read More
  • USCG Cutter and Two Life Boats Ensure Damaged Vessel Reached Post +

    USCG Life Boat In a four-day operation off the coast of Oregon, three separate vessels of the US Coast Guard towed a 50ft Read More
  • Operation to Salvage Three Tugs +

    Tug Salvage THE US Coast Guard has launched an investigation into the sinking of three vessels in the Illinois River near Hardin, Read More
  • Terminal Being Made 'Big Ship Ready' for 2021 +

    Terminal Being Made Big Ship Ready WORK has started on the expansion of Seattle’s Terminal 5 so it can handle container ships of up to 18,000 Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Asia-Pacific

  • Next Generation of Bulk Carrier Handed Over +

    Next Generation of Bulk Carrier Handed Over THE JAPANESE shipbuilder Japan Marine United has delivered what it described as “a next-generation energy-saving bulk carrier” to Nissen Kaiun, Read More
  • Coal Carrier to Serve Japanese Power Stations +

    Coal Carrier to Serve Japanese Power Stations THE Japanese shipping line, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha (K Line), have taken delivery of the coal carrier Corona Citrus, 88,000dwt, built Read More
  • Network Demands Recovery of the Second VDR +

    Stellar Daisy A new search has been demanded to recover the second Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) from the wreck of the South Read More
  • First of Giant New Container Ships is Handed Over +

    MSC Gulsun THE SWISS-based Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) has taken delivery of one of the world’s largest container ships, the MSC Gulsun, Read More
  • The Last New Magnolia Ship in Series +

    The Last New Magnolia Ship THE Singapore-based container shipping company Ocean Network Express (ONE) has taken delivery of the 14,000 teu capacity ONE Cygnus, 138,611dwt, Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Naval Focus

  • US Navy Orders Another Two Expeditionary Sea Base Ships +

    US Navy Orders Another Two Expeditionary Sea Base Ships American News The expansion of the US Navy’s amphibious capability continues with the announcement that General Dynamics NASSCO has received Read More
  • RFA Tideforce is Welcomed into Service +

    RFA Tideforce BRITISH News THE FOURTH and last of the new Tide class tankers, RFA Tideforce, was offi cially accepted into service Read More
  • USS Cincinnati to be Delivered to US Navy +

    USS Cincinnati US News USS CINCINNATI is the latest member of the expanding littoral combat ship fl eet to be delivered to Read More
  • Scorpene Sub Snags +

    INS Khanderi indian News The troubled Scorpene class submarine program hit another snag in June. Read More
  • US Navy’s Frigate Program Passes Significant Hurdle +

    USS Minneapolis-St Paul US News The US Navy has unveiled its plans for the purchase of a new frigate known as FFG(X). Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ferry World

  • DFDS and Moby +

    DFDS and Moby PROPOSED FERRY EXCHANGE ‘AND A TALE OF TWO STEAMERS...’ Read More
  • From Port Glasgow Nationalisation to Philip & Son, Dartmouth +

    Red Eagle So, not many months ago, nationalisation was unfashionable and unlikely ever to return, especially within the EU where that institution’s Read More
  • Alan Sinclair to Nova Star +

    Glen Sannox Those in management positions must dread the retirement of those characters who retire from their life’s work with a wealth Read More
  • Fragile Future for Calmac +

    Isle of Arran TMore and more, I am reading reports that say the media, and the public too, are well aware of the Read More
  • Oscar Goes to Italy +

    Oscar Wilde Irish Continental Group has entered into a bareboat hire purchase agreement for the sale of its 1987-built Oscar Wilde to Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Sail Review/Coastal Comment

  • Visits to Brixham and the Pin Mill Race +

    Visits to Brixham and the Pin Mill Race In July, the brigantine Tres Hombres called at Brixham on passage from the Caribbean to Amsterdam with 35 tonnes of Read More
  • From Gloucester Tall Ships to Kenyan Sailing Dhows +

    Royalist Gloucester Dock is linked to the River Severn at Sharpness by a 16 mile canal. Read More
  • The Zea Servant +

    Zea Servant The Hong Kong registered Zea Servant arrived late June from Hull. She was in Campbeltown to load wind turbines for Read More
  • The Green Band of Marstal +

    Bessie Ellen The Danish Maritime Museum had the schooner Bonavista built on the island of Aero at Marstal and this year they Read More
  • Norweigan National Day +

    Thorodd I was in Montrose on the Norwegian National Day, 17 May, when its independent constitution from Sweden was confirmed in Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

From the Lookout

  • Flying Focus Calendar 2020 +

    Flying Focus Calendar 2020 FOR MORE THAN 30 years, Flying Focus, based in the Netherlands, has specialised in maritime aerial photography.. Read More
  • Seized Stena Impero Leaves Oran, Owner Confirms +

    Seized Stena Impero Leaves Oran, Owner Confirms It was good news to hear in late September that, according to the ship’s owner, Stena Bulk, the detained tanker Read More
  • Gulf Tensions Result in Cruise Cancellations +

    Oceana IN THE ‘MESSAGE FROM THE BRIDGE’ I referred to the tensions with Iran in the Gulf, following the seizure in Read More
  • Waverley Appeal Reaches Half Million Milestone +

    Waverley Appeal THE WAVERLEY – the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world – had to be withdrawn from service in May this year Read More
  • Welcome to 'Spirit Of Discovery' - Farewell to 'Oriana' +

    Spirit of Discovery WITHIN the last two months the British cruise industry has welcomed the arrival of Saga Cruises, 58,250gt, Spirit of Discovery, Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Cruise News/Superyacht News

  • Silversea Cruises has Partnered with French Luxury Glassmaker Lalique +

    Silver Shadow SILVERSEA CRUISES has partnered with French luxury glassmaker Lalique to enhance the dining experience onboard Silver Shadow and Silver Moon. Read More
  • Billionaire Arthur Blank has his own Dreamboat +

    Billionaire Arthur Blank's Dreamboat ARTHUR BLANK helped create the American home improvement store chain, Home Depot, and it seems that now, his new fl Read More
  • Boudicca Pays Tribute to D-Day Veterans +

    Boudicca Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines were proud to have played its part in hosting 250 D-Day veterans. Read More
  • Captain of a Modern Passenger Carrying Sail Ship +

    Sea Cloud 2 If you have ever wondered what qualities a Captain of a cruise vessel might need to have listed on his Read More
  • Every Ash Cloud Has A Silver Lining +

    The ash cloud crisis continues to cause uncertainty as we see sporadic closures of airspace and cancelled flights, and this Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Ships, Ports and Places

Cuba

An Unexpected Job in Cuba

In 1948, I joined the MV Yamaska Park as an EDH and, over the first few days aboard, I became Read More
Suez Canal

The Creation of the Suez Canal - Part Two

IAt the end of 1858, the company’s Works Committee convened for the first time. It included an impressive assembly of Read More
  • 1
  • 2

Companies, Events and Other Features

Seventy-Five Years On

Seventy-Five Years On

In 1944, Tom Bradbury was serving as a 22-year-old Royal Navy lieutenant in the DIDO class cruiser HMS Scylla. Having Read More
The Falkland Robinson Crusoe

The Falkland Robinson Crusoe

During the 1982 South Atlantic conflict between Britain and Argentina over control of the archipelago known to the British as Read More
  • 1
  • 2