Highly skilled tradespeople and management with decades of practical marine experience.
Dongara Marine has a multi-skilled workforce with both the capability and capacity to undertake virtually all aspects of vessel construction, testing, project management, and business administration in-house.
Continued success in securing new vessel construction contracts and major refit / repair work has facilitated significant workforce development at Dongara Marine in recent times.
In parallel to increasing the number of employees, Dongara Marine has also broadened the workforce skillset through recruitment of tradespeople with qualifications and experience in different trades including electrical and coating application specialists. This has included recruiting a qualified electrician and two spraypainters. We also actively support the further education and training of existing employees.
As a result of these workforce development activities, we now have virtually all the trades and skills necessary to build highly sophisticated vessels in-house. This includes aluminium welders / fabricators, high-tech composites technicians, interior fitout, painting and blasting, electrical, even windows.
Having this in-house ability provides us with much greater control over project schedule, cost, technical performance, and quality than is feasible when using when using subcontractor personnel.
In addition to the oversight from our Managing Director, a qualified shipwright, other senior staff provide day-to-day, shopfloor management and supervision of our skilled staff. This includes planning tasks, monitoring workplace and environment safety, quality assurance, and daily reporting to management.
To ensure our business runs smoothly administrative tasks, including project budget reporting, are undertaken by our Finance / Admin specialist. This provides our Managing Director with increased time for direct project management including interfaces with current and prospective clients, major suppliers, and our vessel design partners.
Our ability to undertake projects efficiently and reliably is additionally supported by our existing physical resources in the form of facilities, plant, and equipment that are ideally sized for the types of vessels we build, repair, and modify, and proven through use in current and recent projects.
– Founding Director and Shareholder
John Fitzhardinge brings nearly 60 years of experience in commercial vessel design, construction, and operation to our projects.
John built his first boat at the age of nine, continuing on to design and build his first commercial vessel – a lobster fishing boat – in 1961. He began his parallel career as a professional lobster fisher with a similar boat the following year.
When not fishing he and his wife Beth continued to build boats for themselves and other fishermen, before establishing Dongara Marine in 1975.
In 1982 he designed and built the 14.6 metre lobster fishing boat Hero. It proved so successful that other fishermen commissioned him to design new vessels for them. Three years later John and three partners formed Geraldton Boat Builders (GBB).
Over a period of 15 years John was responsible for producing the designs for literally hundreds of vessels built by GBB, including passenger charter boats; naval and patrol craft; and commercial fishing boats. This constant activity not only helped to refine John’s skills and experience in all aspects of vessel design and aluminium boatbuilding, both technical and managerial.
In 1997 John, along with fellow designer Chris Smart, established GBB’s former in-house design team as an independent business, Southerly Designs. Although separate, Southerly Designs continued to be the designer of choice for both GBB, then Strategic Marine and Western Boatbuilders, as well as Dongara Marine and other Australian boatbuilders.
In 2000 GBB won a tender that would ultimately see it build 65 fast patrol boats for the Singapore Police Coast Guard, and lead to the formation of a new company, Strategic Marine, to focus on international shipbuilding. John was a Director of that new business from its creation in 2001 until 2012. This provided him with additional exposure to international business and shipbuilding practices; new vessel markets; and government contracting.
In addition to his vessel design and construction activities, John has more than 40 years experience operating commercial vessels. This has proved critical to his and our success, providing first hand ‘field’ knowledge of vessel and equipment operation and maintenance that informs the way we build and equip the boats we build.
John’s fishing career also led him to be involved as a Director and Chairman of the Geraldton Fishermen’s Co-operative for a 32 period from 1971 to 2003. This further demonstrates the depth of John’s business management skills and knowledge.
– Managing Director and Shareholder
Rohan Warr is Managing Director and part owner of Dongara Marine, and a fully qualified shipwright. A ‘hands on’ Director, Rohan typically works directly with our clients as well as being personally involved in managing daily boatbuilding and maintenance activities.
In addition to the qualifications, skills and experience Rohan has gained through his involvement in boatbuilding since 1995, he brings to our projects commercial vessel operational experience from work in the fishing industry. This includes obtaining his Master V skippers ticket and Marine Engine Driver grade 2 qualifications. As is the case with John Fitzhardinge this brings significant benefits to our vessel construction process, including enabling a better understanding of client’s operational needs.
Rohan’s career as a shipwright began in 1995 through an apprenticeship with Vikal International, a world-renowned builder in the superyacht industry, in Perth. After completing his apprenticeship he went on to work as a shipwright primarily in commercial vessel construction. Initially working at Northern Star Boat Builders in Perth, he returned to the Mid West in 2001 to work for Geraldton-based companies Batavia Boat Builders and then Western Boatbuilders.
Working at these companies in both shipwright and supervisory roles, Rohan gained significant experience in building aluminium monohulls and multihulls for a wide range of commercial and government applications.
In addition to many cray boats, this included charter and liveaboard dive /cruise catamarans; a series of tri-hull Commando Operational Watercraft; and long range patrol boats for various government agencies. This demonstrates his ability to successfully manage construction of vessels of differing sizes, applications, and hullforms for different types of customers under varying contract types.
Rohan moved from Western Boatbuilders to Dongara Marine in 2010 to assist John Fitzhardinge with the conversion of the composite lobster fishing boat Hero to a pleasure craft. He was subsequently appointed General Manager of Dongara Marine and, in July 2016, he and his wife became partners in Dongara Marine with the Fitzhardinges. Rohan took on the role of Managing Director.
In 2020 Rohan was appointed to the Board of the Mid West Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MWCCI).
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