Iron Man

Terry Tindale, veteran seafarer and union official recalls the hardship endured by Australian seafarers on board the BHP Iron Boats at a special function held to commemorate the once strong fleet of 53 ships in Port Kembla.

In 1924 BHP signed an agreement with Scott Fells and Co to manage their shipping.  It was the beginning of what was to become Australia's largest merchant shipping fleet. Three years later BHP and Scott Fells jointly purchased a 10 year old steamer Koolonga and launched it as the Iron Monarch, the first of a fleet of 53 iron boats. Today the ships can be counted on one hand. Iron Boat Day aims to help campaign to expand Australia's merchant shipping fleet back to its hey day and provided an opportunity for old shipmates, wharfies and port workers and their kin to meet at the MUA meeting rooms.

Jamie McMechan, MUA film unit, is producing a film on the day where around 200 MUA members, officials, veterans and their families undaunted by the rain came out to celebrate Australian shipping.