Poppa G

Dongara Marine and Southerly Designs deliver next level flexibility

Undertaking multiple roles within a single industry segment is one thing, but Poppa G takes things to the next level by operating as a commercial fishing boat, offshore service vessel, and passenger charter craft.

Designed and built in Port Denison / Dongara, Western Australia this truly multi-purpose vessel was built for another local company Bass Marine. The company has been supporting the offshore oil and gas industry, and providing other marine logistics services, for more than 20 years. Its maritime experience runs even deeper.

Managing Director George Bass began commercial fishing with his father while still at school in the early 1960s. George now leads three generations of the family in the business, including sons Clay and Daemon, each Masters with well over 20 years in the marine industry. The family’s longstanding, and continuing, involvement in Western Australia’s fishing industry actually dates back to George’s grandfather.

Multipurpose vessel at sea

Not surprisingly Poppa G will be used in the Western Rock Lobster fishery and incorporates the features and appearance of the typical, albeit large, ‘cray boat’. The boat’s operating requirement is, however, significantly more challenging as it also demands the versatility to undertake offshore support work including crew/supply vessel operations; charter boat activities; and both lobster and wet line fishing.

The rationale for versatility is straightforward: it enables greater vessel utilisation and thus return on investment, especially important in a tightly managed fishery where individual quotas can be caught in a matter of weeks.  

While easy to understand, successfully realising the multi-role vessel vision within vessel dimensions constrained by manning regulations is no easy task. Bass Marine found the necessary expertise and experience with naval architects Southerly Designs and boatbuilder Dongara Marine.

“The Bass family are highly experienced operators who pride their business on reliability of service,” said Dongara Marine’s Managing Director, Rohan Warr. “We take it as a great compliment that they believed we could deliver such a sophisticated vessel and have it perform reliably in such a variety of roles and in demanding conditions.

“Long term performance and value for the customer is an ethos we share with Southerly Designs, and we are certainly confident that Bass Marine’s faith in us will be rewarded for many years to come.”

– Rowan Warr

As with other recent lobster fishing boats from Southerly Designs and Dongara Marine, Poppa G has the size, seakeeping, capacity and onboard systems to fish in deep waters and rough seas well offshore and return the live catch in pristine condition. This means the Bass family can fish according to market conditions rather than sea conditions. Inclusive of deck tanks the boat can load up to 6.5 tonnes (210 baskets) of live lobster. This includes a 24 basket capacity live tank that doubles as bait freezer.

Reflecting its utility, the vessel can carry 20 tonnes of deck cargo and is fitted with a knuckle boom crane amidships on the starboard side. Foundations for larger deck cranes are provided on both sides at the transom to enable easy reconfiguration for offshore and construction support work.

These foundations are in covered recesses, providing a clear and unobstructed work deck when cranes are not fitted.

Also differentiating Poppa G is its liveaboard capacity, with accommodation for eight personnel for unlimited periods at sea up to 200 nautical miles offshore, increasing to 13 personnel for up to 36 hours at sea. It can carry substantially larger personnel numbers for crew transfer and charter / tourism operations: up to 70 passengers in NSCV 1D operations.

Multipurpose vessel dinette

Southerly Designs Managing Director Andrew Taylor said his team had developed solutions to a number of design challenges to ensure high levels of functionality across the various operational roles.

“For example, achieving the highest accommodation level standard in the NSCV (AL 72+) for eight persons required optimised layouts given the restricted deck space a planing hull of this size provides,” he said. The accommodation includes five cabins, as well as a separate bathroom compartment complete with full size shower and fully equipped laundry.

Multipurpose vessel laundry and bathroom

All the accommodation areas are fitted and finished to standards paying passengers would appreciate, with wheelhouse habitability further benefitting from the enhanced thermal, sound, and vibration insulating properties of its composite construction.  This also enables a near superyacht quality finish, and amenities such as the large flat screen television that folds down from the deckhead would certainly not be out of place in the yacht sector.

Multipurpose vessel composite wheelhouse

The raised wheelhouse arrangement helps to achieve the volume required, while also improving visibility from the control station, which is located in the aft corner where motions, and sightlines to the aft deck, are best. The control station features twin, customised suspension seats which include armrest track ball controls for the key electronics. The extent of the package provided by Geraldton Marine Electronics is evidenced in the console’s eight large flat screens. A second helm station is on the flybridge.

Multipurpose vessel electronics

Taylor explained that functionality also posed challenges in external areas.

“Another challenge was meeting the offshore stability standards with 20 tonnes of deck cargo while also maintaining the relatively low, completely unobstructed bulwarks that lobster fishing requires. To achieve this we took a different approach to engine room ventilation than is typically found on this type of vessel,” Taylor added.

Bass Marine’s existing experience with MTU, and the availability of the required power in a compact engine at a heavy duty work boat rating, led to the choice of MTU 10V 2000 M72 main engines. These were installed by M3 Engineering. Each engine drives a Teignbridge fixed pitch propeller via a ZF 2000A gearbox.

Multipurpose vessel engine room

Like most of Southerly Designs’s recent propeller-driven vessels Poppa G has twin skegs that protect the running gear and enable the use of larger rudders supported with bottom pintles.

“The combination provides excellent directional stability, particularly in following seas, and reduces vessel roll motions. The arrangement has become the preferred choice of many operators for whom ride and handling are critical.”

– Andrew Taylor, Managing Director, Southerly Designs

The boat is also fitted with a Humphree system to control and optimise running trim; a bow thruster; and ZF’s Joystick Maneuvering System (JMS). JMS simplifies low speed vessel handling through joystick control and provides automated station keeping functionality.

Electrical power is provided by twin 50kW Kohler three-phase generators arranged for fully automatic load sharing, synchronization, and load cycling.

With Bass Marine wanting the new boat as soon as possible, and a number of other projects already underway, Dongara Marine had the aluminium hull fabricated in Geraldton by Xtreme Marine. It was then transported to the Dongara Marine facility where the composite wheelhouse was manufactured and fitted, along with all engineering, hydraulics, plumbing, electrical, and fitout work.

“Here our workforce went above and beyond,” Rohan Warr said. “Having built numerous pilot launches and large cray boats in recent years, we have become accustomed to working with some fairly sophisticated systems but Poppa G was another step up again.

“The Bass family, and their offshore clients, expect the boat to deliver high performance without fail, and that translates into engineering and other onboard systems with significant complexity and redundancy. Certainly features such as copper nickel pipework are well in excess of what people traditionally associate with a lobster boat, but then again Poppa G is no traditional vessel.”

– Rowan Warr

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