Spirit of Tasmania II passes 
 Point Lonsdale Lighthouse while entering
 Port Phillip Bay from Bass Strait
 January 14 2010

Bass Strait Passenger Ships and Passenger/Vehicle Ferries
Spirit of Tasmania II passes Point Lonsdale Lighthouse while entering
Port Phillip Bay from Bass Strait January 14 2010

Pictures can be clicked on to advance to next
Bass Strait is situated between the Australian States of Victoria and Tasmania. Average depth is about 50 metres.  (Wikepedia)  It is named after early explorer George Bass. Bass was a surgeon aboard HMS Reliance. He rowed in a whaleboat, with a few others, in January 1798, from Sydney and discovered a large bay which he named Westernport. Later that same year, he and Lieut. Matthew Flinders, both of the H.M.S. Reliance, sailed through Bass Strait.
Below: 1 George Bass Marker at Bass Victoria. Click on for enlargement
2 Bass Strait Map showing Melbourne to Devonport ferry route
George Bass Historic 
Marker Bass Victoria Map of Bass Strait Between 
Victoria and Tasmania

Oonah Loongana Nairana Taroona Princes of Tasmania Australian Trader
Empress of Australia First Spirit of Tasmania Spirit of Tasmania I and II
Links  Other Pages  More History of Bass Strait Shipping
Diamond Princess and Spirit 1  Port Distances  View Background

SS Oonah
SS Oonah
    Oonah was formerly a Tasmanian Steam Navigation Co. ship. It was transferred from the Sydney-Hobart service to the Bass Strait service and run by the Union Steamship Co. as contribution with Loongana, to the Service operated from 1921 with Huddart Parker Co., which contributed Nairana to the service. These Companies together formed Tasmanian Steamers Pty Ltd
    Loongana, of 2448 tons, was built in 1904 by William Denny and Brothers Dumbarton, and was the first turbine steamer to operate in the Southern Hemisphere.

Nairana leaving Tasmania
Nairana leaving Tasmania 1940s
The maiden voyage of Nairana to Tasmania, was in April 1921. She was a twin screw turbine steamer of 3042 tons and shared the run with with Loongana until Loongana and Oonah were retired in 1935. During World War II when Taroona was on war service duty in the North, Nairana was in very high demand and made three return trips per week.     More Nairana Information

  Tasmanian Steamers  Pty Ltd, was formed in 1921 and Oonah was operated along with Loongana and Nairana by that Company until 1935 when Oonah and Loongana were replaced by the then new Taroona. Taroona chiefly ran the service apart from a period during World War II when Nairana took over while Taroona was utilised as a troop ship.   Taroona was replaced by Princess of Tasmania in 1959 which was operated by the Australian Government owned Australian National Line (ANL). The ANL also had the Empress of Australia built for the Sydney-Hobart run, as well as the Australia trader which operated for some time with the Princess of Tasmania as traffic increased. The larger Empress was eventually transferred to the Melbourne-Devonport run, and the Princess of Tasmania and Australia trader were retired from the run, the latter being taken over by the white. The Tasmanian Government took over the Bass Strait passenger shipping with the Abel Tasman in mid 1985 and have been in charge of the service since with later ships being the First Spirit of Tasmania, which was replaced by Spirit of Tasmania I and Spirit of Tasmania II.   Further details are below.

TSS Taroona
Taroona departing Station pier Port Melbourne early 1950s
Unloading motor vehicles from SS Taroona
 Pictures above:  Top: Taroona departing Station Pier Port Melbourne 1950s Lower: Method of loading/unloading motor vehicles: Taroona at Station Pier
 Information about Taroona
Tasmanian newspaper item of 1946 of Taroona at Devonport after resuming the Bass Strait run after World War II
Taroona Information at Wikipedia

Princess of Tasmania
Princess of Tasmania arriving Devonport 1960s
Princess of Tasmania and Bass trader Webb dock
Princess of Tasmania at sea
Princess of Tasmania from Devonport Railway
Pictures above:
Top: Princess of Tasmania arriving at Devonport early 1960s
middle: Princess of Tasmania and Bass trader at Webb Dock
Lower: Princess of Tasmania at Sea
Bottom: View from Devonport Railway Station
Information about Princess of Tasmania

Australian Trader
Australian trader 
 at Burnie
Australian trader at Station 
Pier as Jervis Bay in later Navy Service
M.V Australian Trader was built at Newcastle N.S.W. at the State Dockyard for service with the Australian National Line and was on the Tasmania run between 1969 and 1976 after which it became part of the Navy's fleet as H.M.A.S. Jervis Bay. The top picture shows the Australian Trader at Burnie Tasmania while the lower picture shows her at Station Pier Port Melbourne while in service with the Navy as a training and transport ship. HMAS Jervis Bay was decommissioned in 1994, sold, and operated beween Greece and Turkey and later in the Persian Gulf before being sold for scrap in 2004.     More information at  Wikipedia

Empress of Australia
Empress of Australia
Empress of Australia
Two Pictures above (reproduced from color slides) -
MV Empress of Australia at the Devonport Terminal in the Mersey River

Information about Empress of Australia
More pictures and information about Empress of Australia

M.V. Abel Tasman
Abel Tasman Mersey River Devonport Tasmania
Abel Tasman departing Devonport
Abel Tasman at Sea
Abel Tasman Port Melbourne
Abel Tasman Station Pier Port Melbourne
 Pictures above:
1 and 2  Abel Tasman at Devonport and departing Devonport   3:  At Sea   4 and 5  At Station Pier Port Melbourne
Information about MV Abel Tasman
Video:  M.V. Abel Tasman from Melbourne to Devonport: a video shot in 1993 recalling some nostalgia regarding M.V. Abel Tasman
Video:  M.V. Abel Tasman Arriving at Devonport

Steam train & M.V. Abel Tasman
Devonport to Burnie Tasmania Australia

from reidgck on Vimeo.

First Spirit of Tasmania
First 'Spirit of Tasmania'
 departing Port Melbourne
First 'Spirit of Tasmania'
 departing Port Melbourne
Loading first Spirit of Tasmania at Port Melbourne
First Spirit of Tasmania at Port Melbourne
Pictures above: The First Spirit of Tasmania, Port Melbourne
Information:    First Spirit of Tasmania

Spirit of Tasmania I   and   Spirit of Tasmania II
Spirit of Tasmania II
 passing Point Lonsdale
Spirit of Tasmania 
 at Station Pier
 and Westgate Bridge
 viewed from Albert Park
Spirit of Tasmania
 taken from Arthurs Seat
 near Dromana
Spirit of Tasmania 1
 arriving Devonport - 
 in Mersey River 
 October 2008
Spirit of Tasmania 1
 at Devonport - This picture shows 
 the upper ramp and lower vehicle 
 loading arrangements
Having just turned in the Mersey River
 under the 2008 mid October full moon, Spirit of
 Tasmania II gives a loud blast and starts to move 
 forward in commencement of yet another overnight 
 Bass Strait Crossing to Victoria
By mid November the days were longer and Spirit of
 Tasmania II assisted by the bow thrusters, is completing 
 its turnaround in the Mersey River
 before departing for Melbourne
Spirit of Tasmania II leaving Devonport - about to sail
 out of the Mersey River
Spirit of Tasmania II
 Port Melbourne Sept.9 2002
Spirit of Tasmania II
 showing front vehicle entrance -
 Port Melbourne Sept 9 2002
Port Melbourne May0905
  The pictures above: (1) Spirit II Point Lonsdale  (2) View of Spirit II and Westgate Bridge  (3) Taken from a lookout Arthurs Seat near Dromana  (4) Spirit of Tasmania 1 arriving Devonport October 2008  (5) Spirit of Tasmania I at Devonport showing the upper and lower vehicle ramps  (6) Spirit of Tasmania II having turned, commences the overnight crossing of Bass Strait October 2008 (7) A few weeks later the days are longer and departure time is before sunset  the bow thrusters help turn the ship  (8) Sailing out of the Mersey River at Devonport  (9 and 10) Spirit of Tasmania II Port Melbourne September 2002 before the upper ramp was constructed  (11) Spirit of Tasmania I May 2005 at Station Pier Port Melbourne.
Two ferries, Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2, replaced the first Spirit of Tasmania in September 2002, bringing a nightly service each way. Although normal service schedule is for crossings of 11 hours at around 23 knots average, while each ship makes two 9 hour crossings of Bass Strait within 24 hours at peak times at some 28 knots.
Spirit of Tasmania Mersey River Devonport Tasmania
from reidgck on Vimeo.
Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2
The following is some of the general information about Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2, mainly from a fact sheet available to the public on an open day.
Their builder was Kvaerner Masa-Yards (Finland) in 1998. Their original ports were Ancona Italy, and Patras Greece, and they were originally named Superfast 1 and Superfast 2 and each has a gross tonnage of 29,338. Their first crossing of Bass Strait was in September 2002. Total Lane length on the vehicle decks is approx. 2,565 which would accomodate about 513 vehicles each 5 metres in length.  Each ship has 222 cabins. Eight cabins are deluxe; 153 are four berth with 72 of these having portholes, while there are 59 twin berth cabins with portholes and two easy access cabins for wheelchairs. Each cabin has private bathroom failities. As well, there are a total of 270 cruise seats and recliners.  Normal schedule is for a sailing time of 11 hours at about 23 knots, however in busy times, the schedule is for two sailings, (a return journey within a 24 hour period) which is called a double sailing, and speed can be in increased to some 27 knots for a crossing of 9 hours.  Each Spirit of Tasmania is powered by four Wärtsilä NSD 16ZA V40S diesel engines to two controllable pitch propellers supplied by KaMeWa.
The engines run at constant speed with the speed of the ship being determined by the blade angles on the variable pitch propellers which are powered through reduction gearboxes with a ratio of 510 (engine revolutions per minute) to 147 (propeller revolutions per minute) i.e. Load on the engines and accordingly speed of the ships is controlled by varying propellor blade pitch. The main engines are Wartsila/New Sulzer V16 turbo charged diesels with each engine capable of producing 10,560 Kilowatts with a total of some 42,240.
Engines are under full load on the double crossings. Heavy thick 'bunker' oil is used with some seven tonnes per hour being burned. At sea, power is generated from two shaft generators, operating at 1,200 RPM
and in port it is generated from three Wärtsilä Vasa 9R20 generators, each capable of providing 1,460kW while electrical generation requirements are some 3,000 kilowatts. The ships each have two Blohm + Voss supplied, anti-vortex tip retractable fin stabilizers, each being eight metres long and positioned midship on each vessel.   Also supplied by KaMeWa and installed for extra manoeuvrability, are three 1,000kW side thrusters; two are positioned forward, and one is positioned aft.
More Information: www.ship-technology.com/projects/superfast

Spirit of Tasmania III
Spirit of Tasmania III at 
 Port Melbourne August 9 2006
Spirit of Tasmania III at Port Melbourne - August 09 2006. From the Devonport - Sydney run, SOT3 was temporarily replacing one of the regular Melbourne - Devonport ships due to drydocking. The Sydney to Devonport run has been discontinued

Spirit of Tasmania Port Phillip Heads
Spirit of Tasmania at Port Phillip Heads
Spirit of Tasmania Port Phillip Heads:  Sailing out of
 Bass Strait; passing Port Lonsdale Lighthouse; and entering Port Phillip Bay
Port Phillip Heads and Point Lonsdale Lighthouse
Satellite view: Map of Port Phillip Heads and Corsair Rock locaion
Ship tracker - (Marinetraffic.com)
Map of Port Phillip Heads
    (Port of Melbourne webcams have been discontinued)

Port Welshpool - Georgetown Seacat
Seacat arriving at 
 Port Welshpool Victoria
Before the introduction of the present Spirit of Tasmania ferries illustrated above, two High speed catamaran services were operated to Tasmania. One service, the devilcat, was from Port Melbourne in conjunction with the first Spirit of Tasmania in the busy season, and the other was a service between Port Welshpool Victoria and Georgetown Tasmania, with the Seacat, also in the busy warmer months. These fast catamarans, as well as others, were built in Hobart Tasmania. The picture above shows the 'Seacat' arriving at port Welshpool. The crossing between Port Welshpool and Georgetown took about five hours.
More seacat pictures at Port Welshpool are at http://www.nex.net.au/~reidgck/seacat.htm

Ferry to Tasmania
Marine traffic - (Marinetraffic.com)
SS Time and Corsair Rock
Tides  Point Lonsdale and elsewhere
Port Phillip and Westernport Bay Weather
More pictures of Bass Strait Ships and Ferries - simplonpc.co.uk
Devilcat high speed catamaran
Rough trip:  Spirit of Tasmania Turns back
Sorrento - Queenscliff Ferries
Port Phillip Sea Pilots
Princess of Tasmania turning - www.austehc.unimelb.edu.au/tia/514.html
Book Review: Port Dalrymple (Launceston) Shipping 1963-1972
Spirit of Tasmania Journey and amenities review (3 pages)
Some Bass Strait Shipping History

Port Phillip Heads 'The Rip'  and Port Phillip Bay
The entrance to Port Phillip Bay is recognized as being capable of becoming one of the most dangerous sections of water in the world. The water depth, changes dramatically between Port Phillip Bay and Bass Strait, and fast flowing tides over the uneven seabed between the deep and shallower water, combined with bad weather can create very dangerous conditions. A large number of shipwrecks have occurred in the loction. Many have come to grief on Corsair Rock before and after the grounding of SS Time in 1949. Corsair Rock was named after the pilot vessel which discovered it about 1853 after a search owing to several large vessels having been damaged or lost. The rock, lies beneath the surface is reported in one source to be about a kilometre west of Point Nepean. and at low water it has less than four meters of water over it. There has been established, a system of lights at Queenscliff within the bay. Ships coming into the bay keep two lights in at this location in line in order to to keep to the middle of the channel. Tidal flow in and out of Port Phillip Bay is very strong at its peak, between 6 and 9 knots; and combined with gale force winds which occur, particularly if on the darkest of nights, this stretch of water is easily turned into a navigational nightmare for those unfamiliar. Ships sailing in or out of the Bay with the tide in their favour, can appear as if to moving really swiftly, while some sailing in or out against the tide can sometimes appear to be, practically not be moving. Pilot vessels are based at nearby Queenscliff and transfer pilots to incoming ships and retreives them from outgoing ships. transfers are made a few miles or so out into Bass Strait. Due to the narrow entrance to Port Phillip Bay, and the huge volume of water the bay contains, together with the inadequate time tidal water has to flow in and out to equalise the depths, the inner bay never achieves the high and low tide variation of Bass Strait. At the top of the bay, tidal variation is significantly less than at Port Phillip Heads. More tidal information at Sea Pilots website

Before the "roll-on roll-off" Princess of Tasmania took over in 1959, Taroona provided generally, a twice weekly return passenger service across Bass Strait between Melbourne Victoria, and Tasmania. Ports in Tasmania it called at, were Burnie, Devonport and Beauty Point - in the Tamar River some 30 miles from Launceston.  Taroona, was built in Glasgow in 1934 by Alexander Stephen &: Sons, and commenced its time on Bass Strait in 1935 replacing the Ooonah.  It was of 4,286 tons with twin steam turbines. Taroona berthed regularly at Princess Pier at Port Melbourne but also occasionally used Station Pier -- both at the northern end of Port Phillip bay - as in the picture above which was taken at Station Pier -- and North wharf in the Yarra river. Taroona was used as a troop ship during World War and ventured at least as far north as New Guinea. (See the link to further information - near the bottom of this page). It was a dark green ship with a yellow band around. Motor cars were lifted into two holds for transportation, using the two on board cranes.  Vehicles were also carried as deck cargo near the back of the ship in busy periods. Taroona could turn and berth of its own accord. Tugs were used only on rare occasions in bad weather and in confined berths such as in the Yarra river.  Recalled on one occasion for example, is that the steam tug "James Paterson" of about 1900 vintage, assisted it to turn when sailing from 17 North wharf.  As well as the two anchors up front, it also had an anchor at its stern.
More Information

Princess of Tasmania
Princess of Tasmania was owned and operated by the Australian National Line.  The 230 miles between Melbourne and Devonport, over which the ship sailed three return trips per week was appropriately named the "Searoad". This was along Port Phillip Bay, over Bass Strait and along the Mersey River at Devonport to it's other specially constructed berth. At the time of introduction in 1959, it was reportedly the longest drive-on drive-off service in the world.  The Princess of Tasmania was 4,619 tons and carried 334 passengers, 178 in cabins and 156 in lounge chair type accomodation. The seating accomodation was in three sections, Two of these were situated -- one on each side of the funnel, while a bigger saloon was situated just behind the front full width deck. It was built at the State Dockyard at Newcastle New South Wales and had a draught of 15 feet which allowed it to use the more direct shallow channel at the southern end of Port Phillip bay to and from the heads (as did Taroona), which saved considerable time and distance. It also carried some 100 cars and caravans plus commercial vehicles and mail van.  It was a twin screw motor vessel, and had four Ruston engines which according to information at hand, Port of Melbourne magazine of that era), which provided 2,880 horsepower, for all services including the side thrust bow propeller. A reference to the type of main engines is "Ferry to Tasmania", a link to which is in the links section above. According to this source, the main engines of the Princess of Tasmania, were two nine cylinder two stroke Nohab Polar type diesels each of 8,600 Brake Horsepower, built by Nybqvist and Holm of trollhattan Norway. Princess of Tasmania remained in service on the Bass Strait run until sold in 1972. She had a list of different owners and consequently had ten names over her 46 years of existence and was scrapped at Alang, India in 2005. More at Wikipedia
More Princess of Tasmania Information

Empress of Australia
Empress of Australia was a passenger / vehicle roll on roll off ferry which originally plied between Sydney and Hobart Tasmania three times every two weeks for seven years. It had a gross tonage of 12,037 tons and was 445 feet in length, and was the largest vessel of this type in the world when built while its route was one of the longest open water routes in the world for a vessel of this type. It was built at the Cockatoo Island Dockyard as ship number 220, for the government owned Australian National Line (ANL). Construction started on September 11 1962. It was launched on January 18 1965, and was completed on January 8 1965. It was transferred to the Melbourne to Devonport run in 1972. Original passenger capacity was 250 in cabins but capacity was increased to some 450, with the addition of about 200 seats for the Melbourne - Devonport overnight service. It could take about 158 vehicles including many semi trailers. The 'Empress' was replaced by the Abel Tasman. It was sold and renamed Royal Pacific.  and sank in the Malacca Strait, in 1991 after colliding with a Taiwanese fishing vessel.

M.V. Abel Tasman
Abel Tasman was built at Nobiskrug Rendsberg in 1975 for the TT line Germany and sailed under the name, Nils Holgersson until 1985. She was renamed Abel Tasman before commencing running across Bass Strait for its new owners - the Tasmanian transport Commission in July 1985. It was a twin screw, roll-on roll-off passenger and road vehicle ferry with hydraulic operated bow doors and stern doors which enabled fast loading and unloading. Bridge height above water was 17m (metres) and the Load Draft was 6.19m. Gross Tonnage (volume) was 19,212 tonnes while the load weight was 12,128 tonnes. Vehicle deck capacity was 234 car equivalents / 44.61m container equivalents. It had two main diesel engines each with 16 cylinders, and each developing 10,400 horsepower giving a total of 20,800. Propellers were four blade variable pitch at 242 rpm. through two reduction gears and two switchable clutches. Each main engine drove a shaft generator each being of 1125kva. In addition, there were four diesel alternators - each 1160 hp at 900 rpm @ 1000kva, and one diesel alternator @ 310hp 1,800rpm @ 225kva. There were two bow thrust propellers @ 11 tonnes. Stabilising plant - 2 fins each seven square metres, 5 metres long. Other information is as follows: 1 electro hydraulic twin steering gear, twin rudders. Car platform deck (raisable) throughout vehicle deck including fore and aft tilt ramp decks. 10 motor life boats 2 @ 60 persons. 8 @ 83 persons. 21 liferafts, inflatable, each 25 persons. 2 passenger lifts, each 6 persons, 1 goods lift. - air conditioning plant - firefighting plant. Monitoring on bridge of fire alarms, watertight doors, fire doors, general alarm via public address system. Gyro compass, satelite navigator, 3 radars, automatic pilot, wireless installation, 2 VHF radios, echo sounder, vehicle deck security system. Engines could be controlled from the Bridge or by command to engine room control center in the engine room. Service speed was up to 18 knots and the time taken for the berth to berth distance of 232 nautical miles was generally a little over 14 hours. Three return Bass Strait crossings per week were made departure time being 6:PM (1800). Facilities included 3 restaurants, children's play room and nursery, swimming pool, saunas, shop, medical service, live entertainment in the main lounge, and a mini cinema. There were 2 and 4 berth cabins hostel accomodation, deluxe suites. Abel Tasman was 149 metres in length and 23.5 metres in width and could carry up to 919 passengers on four accomodation deck levels. It was replaced by the first Spirit of Tasmania in 1993 and was sold in 1994 to Ventouris Ferries and renamed Pollex. It was later sold again.
Mostly from TT Line's Abel Tasman Welcome Aboard brochure

First Spirit of Tasmania
The first spirit of Tasmania was white. This has now been replaced by the two present ships -- Spirit of Tasmania I and II in red livery. The following information was available on board the first S.O.T. and applied when the ship was working over Bass Strait.
Owner: Tasmanian transport Commission; Manager TT Line;
Builder: Seebeckwerdt AF, Bremerhaven, West Germany;
Year built: 1986;
Ship Type: Twin Screw Ro/Ro  & passenger Ferry;
Keel laid: July 1985;
Commissioned: 30 May 1986;
Regulations: Solas Convention 1974 SSV, SBG;
Class: GL + 100A 4 E2 + MC   E2 AUT Z;
Overall length: 161.52 metres;
Overall width: 27.6 metres;
Length between perpendiculars: 150.67 metres;
Beam: 27.60 metres;
Summer freeboard draught: 6.20 metres;
Deadweight: 4.110 tonnes;
Gross tonnage:31.356 Gross tonnage;
Engines: 19,600KW (26,400 hp);
Stabilizers: H.D.W.;
  Capacity ( subject to reconfiguration prior
  to commencement )
Maximum trucks: 118;
Maximum cars: 550;
Maximum cars with 40 trailers: 300;
Berths with facilities: 1,194;
Berths without facilities (including hostel): 100;
Total berths: 1,294:
  Public rooms ( seating capacity subject to
  some reconfiguration prior to commencement )
Bar: 430:
Cafeteria/Coffee Shop: 335;
Buffet: 300;
A La Carte: 375;
Separate conference room: 200;
Gaming room: 50;

Distance berth to berth Melbourne - Devonport =
232 nautical miles = 429 km
Heads to Heads = 190 nautical miles = 352 km
  ( 1/n/m = 6,080 ft = 1,852 m = 1.85km )
  ( 1 statute mile = 1.6 km )
Station Pier to Heads = 42 nautical miles
East Devonport to River Entrance - 1 mile

Other Pages
Bass Strait Passenger Ship History
Hobart Star aground Princes Pier Port Melbourne 1963
Pulling up the old Central Australia Railway
Edith River Railway Bridge Works Northern Territory
60 pictures of New South Wales Railways in the 1960s
The Port Welshpool - Georgetown Seacat
Tasmania's Last Long Distance Passenger train
The L class Electrics of the Victorian Railways
Some Steam trains of Australia
Marree Pictures: Outback Australia + Railway History
The abt Wilderness Railway West Coast Tasmania
How an abt Wilderness Railway Steam Locomotive works
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