by Dom Wiseman

The team at Taree-based Steber International has won their biggest contract to date, constructing an 18.5m (61ft) fisheries research vessel for the Government of Mauritius. The vessel’s build time will be 18 months, with the home port designated as Port Louis, Mauritius.

A stellar opportunity, Steber International are full steam ahead for the new construction that will be so large that the vessel will be completed on the water due to its sheer size. The build has just reached a major milestone with the hull being released from the mould, allowing for construction and fit out to get under way.

General Manager, Alan Steber is thrilled stating, “It’s the first of the Steber/Westcoasters to be built and the largest vessel Steber International have built in the company’s 72 year history”.

“This is a breakthrough contract for commercial boat construction in Australia. It’s the first Steber/Westcoaster to be exported although we have previously built two vessels for the Mauritius Government.

“Several years ago we purchased the Westcoaster 53-58 ft and 58-65ft moulds, traditional cray fishing boats, that were originally built by Western Australia and South Australian interests”.

With a length of 18.5m and beam of 5.4m, the fisheries research vessel, will be powered by a single 500hp Yanmar diesel, producing a top speed of 13 knots. The large fuel and water tanks will allow the vessel to spend up to 30 days at sea in remote locations carrying out scientific studies. The vessel will be fitted with a fully insulated fish room at approximately eight cubic metres. An air-conditioned science laboratory will be fitted with independent freezers and a classroom facility will be built for training students and upgrading skills of existing commercial fishermen.

Constructing commercial boats since the mid-1970s, Steber International have been constructing for over 40 years, cray fishing, tuna, trap and drop lines as well as charter and government vessels. On top of their latest contract, Steber are building five 38ft support vessels for the Royal Australian Navy, to be delivered over the next two years. Alan Steber confirmed, “we have built over 50 export vessels to date and we are currently delivering a 52-footer to the Seychelles, the fourth vessel for this client”.

“The Westcoaster design had to be upgraded to the new NSCV (National Standards for Commercial Vessels) controlled by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

“Following this upgrade, extensions to our marine engineering department currently underway and staff recruitment, we are now seeking expressions of interest in the Steber commercial range, up to 65ft, as always custom built to client specifications”.