The experience of Steber International, coupled with the proven Westcoaster design, has created a niche marketing opportunity for Australia’s leading manufacturer of commercial fibreglass vessels.
At the time of writing Steber’s first and largest vessel is en route to the Republic of Mauritius and even before delivery, another export project is in the planning stages. The Mauritius Government will take delivery of the 61ft Investigator II fisheries research vessel in late March.
Steber general manager, Alan Steber “It’s been almost 15 years since the last Westcoaster was made in WA and we’ve worked hard to improve and redevelop the original design”. “Apart from the 61ft version, we have already had strong interest in the 53-58 ft commercial range from overseas clients.
“The original design had to be upgraded to the latest Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) specifications and following the success of our first big build, we plan to capitalise on that hard work, nationally and internationally”, says Steber.
Steber says that 32 years ago they built their first boat, a 41ft fishing vessel for the Mauritius Government. This was followed by a 47ft fishing training vessel. The Mauritius Research Council and Mauritius Oceanic Institute have been promoting the potential of the blue economy since the extension of the continental shelf has seen the country’s exclusive economic zone expand to an area of 2.3 million square kilometres – four times the size of France. So far, preliminary studies have found that a range of activities could be developed, including marine aquaculture, seaweed industry, pearl culture, seafood processing, ocean tourism, renewable marine energy, marine biotechnology, seawater desalination and exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons.
The imposing list of features packed into Investigator II make it ideally suited to further advance research into many of these potential economic initiatives. Features of the record-breaking vessel include large fuel and water tanks allowing for up to 20 days at sea, air-conditioned laboratory with independent freezers, and a classroom for training students and upgrading skills of existing fishermen.
Three Australian made hydraulic fishing reels compliment the deck gear onboard, capable of dropping up to three kilometres of line to the bottom. There is a clutched PTO off the main engine’s ZF325-1 transmission (assisted by 300 litre hydraulic oil reservoir) that is coupled to all the hauling systems onboard, including a drum line capable of deploying long lining and pot capture equipment. The boat includes a saloon that can seat up to 12 people in relative comfort with a large open plan galley adjoining. This area, being larger than would be traditionally seen on a Westcoaster fishing boat, can also double as a training area for small groups on board as required. There are also five accommodation cabins that sleep 12. With around eight months in design and equipment decisions for the final configuration of Investigator II, overall it was simplicity that ruled in the final design. Eighteen months construction followed, utilising and maximising Australian content.
Power is a single 500hp Yanmar which gives a speed of 13.7 knots. The primary purpose of Investigator II will be to travel to remote areas and islands to fully investigate fisheries and the sustainability of fisheries in those waters.