IMC Logo

International Maritime Consultants

IMC engineers Southern Ocean fishing boat conversion

IMC engineers Southern Ocean fishing boat conversion

IMC’s ability to extract enhanced value from existing vessels, as well as its expertise with commercial fishing boats, has been highlighted in the recent major conversion of a 68 metre purse seiner / trawler to longline / trawler for operation in Antarctic waters.

Built in 1999, the 68 metre Atlas Cove, formerly the purse seine vessel, Østerbris 2, was purchased by Austral Fisheries in 2014. A major refit was undertaken over a period of four months to convert it into a one-of-a-kind, dual-purpose longline / trawl vessel. This was particularly important for Austral in order to make the most out of the short longline season for Toothfish, while also retaining the trawl capacity to catch Icefish, and undertake important survey work.

While the substantial physical and layout changes to the boat were made at the Båtbygg shipyard in Norway, the supporting naval architecture and engineering work was carried out across the globe in IMC’s offices in Fremantle, Australia. These activities encompassed many of the disciplines in IMC’s skillset including ship structural design and analysis, general arrangement development, vessel systems engineering, and technical documentation.

The converted dual-purpose longline / trawl vessel departs Norway featuring many modifications engineered by IMC (Photo from Austral Fisheries)

“IMC has been supporting Austral Fisheries’s naval architecture and engineering requirements for nearly 20 years,” commented IMC Managing Director Justin McPherson. “We were very pleased to once again be able to support them on this innovative and extensive commercial fishing boat conversion.”

IMC’s previous projects with Austral Fisheries include the significant lengthening of the company’s longline / trapping factory vessel Austral Leader II. Between November 2011 and March 2012 the vessel was extended from 52 metres to 59.8 metres to add further accommodation and storage. That work was carried out at the CNOI Shipyard in Port Louis, Mauritius.

For the Atlas Cove conversion, IMC staff worked closely with subject matter experts from Austral and the shipyard to transform the vessel into one that could safely and efficiently fish in demanding Southern Ocean conditions.

Atlas Cove is engineered to work in extreme sea conditions such as this one-in-15-year storm event (Photo from Austral Fisheries)

Changes to the vessel included reconfiguring and raising the aft deck, with the purse seine bins and deck crane removed and replaced with two net drums and a stern ramp. The existing stern gantry was lowered by four metres. Additions included a smaller gantry further forward, paravane booms and winches.

Below decks, eight refrigerated sea water (RSW) tanks that had extended from the deck to the tank top were removed and a series of new cabins fitted to increase capacity from 12 berths to enable Atlas Cove to accommodate up to 30 crew. This also required reconfiguration of the mess deck.

In addition to integrating the longline system itself – which required engineering a significant cut out in the vessel’s side – incorporation of a hook room was facilitated by relocating steering pumps and another raise in the deck.

In addition to these and many other engineering and structural changes required to provide the new fishing capability, IMC’s scope of work including the engineering, analysis and documentation required to support a change of Class and compliance with Australian flag requirements.


1. In this Austral Fisheries' video, Captain Stev Paku walks through the major changes to the vessel and describe the functionality that the vessel can achieve in catching MSC certified Toothfish via longline and Icefish via trawl around Heard Island in Australia's sub-Antarctic.

2. To read an article about the conversion that appeared in Fishing News International, click here.

3. To view a time lapse video of the Austral Leader II lengthening, click here.

SUBSCRIBE to receive regular updates from IMC by clicking here

contact details

Ph +61 (8) 9335 1991
Office Address
Level 2, Suite 2, Atwell Buildings
3 Cantonment Street
Fremantle 6160

Postal Address
PO Box 558 Fremantle 6959