Port Kembla: Crew, emergency workers, farewell the Iron Chieftain.
The Iron Chieftain left Port Kembla on Wednesday, 27 March, under tow to its final resting place in Turkey.
Pictured ~ Fire-damaged ore carrier Iron Chieftain leaves Port Kembla under tow to Turkey. Image credit: Michelle Meyers, MUA.
The Chieftain suffered irreparable damage after a fire on board in June 2018. It was one of the last iron ships with an Australian Crew.
The crew of the Iron Chieftain, along with tug crews who fought the fire and local emergency authorities that prevented a major catastrophe, farewelled one of the true workhorses of the Australian coast.
On Monday, 18 June 2018 the CSL Iron Chieftain was alongside Berth 113 in Port Kembla Harbour discharging a load of dolomite when the belt drive system caught fire which quickly spread along the system.
The IR on watch immediately raised the alarm and the crew, having been woken by the emergency sirens, followed the onboard firefighting procedures with the CIR and another IR donning the fire suits and entered the tunnels to do what they could to stem the fire, however they were eventually pushed back by the thick smoke and heat.
The fire had taken hold and from that point on there were 110 firefighters and 5 units daily fighting the blaze from the wharf with 2 Svitzer tugs, whose response time was equal to the emergency services crews, spraying water directly onto the flames initially then maintaining boundary cooling duties on the hull. In all it took 5 days before the fire was brought completely under control.
Despite massive volumes of water and foam pouring into and on to the ship by the third day the fire was still burning with an intensity that saw the temperature near the fuel tanks still rising to dangerous levels that had the authorities assessing the possibility of evacuating the area. In all it took 5 days before the fire was brought completely under control.
Due to the significant damage the decision was made by the ship owner CSL to retire the ship.
The Iron Chieftain was the third last Australian crewed iron boat before the fire and since then the Lowlands Brilliance and the Mariloula have had their Australian crew removed, leaving no Australian crewed iron ships servicing the coastal trade for BHP and BlueScope.
The Sinking of Newcastle’s Iron Chieftain and Iron Crown
Above ~ SS Iron Chieftain sunk in 1942 after leaving Newcastle on route to Whyalla. Image credit: Company of Master Mariners of Australia
A predecessor Iron Chieftain met an even more tragic fate in 1942 when sunk by a Japanese submarine.
The SS Iron Chieftain was built by Lithgows Ltd, Port Glasgow for Broken Hill Proprietary Company, Broken Hill. She was launched on 22 October 1937 and was homeported in Melbourne under the British Flag.
On 3 June 1942, the SS Iron Chieftain en route Newcastle-Whyalla was torpedoed and sunk east of Sydney by Japanese submarine I-24 at about 11pm about 27 miles (43 km) east of Sydney. Her Master Captain Lionel Haddelsey and Chief Engineer Marcus Gunn, were two of the twelve crew members who were killed. Thirty-seven survivors were rescued from a raft by HMAS Bingera and from a lifeboat washed onto the beach at The Entrance.