Austal Image now closed after 26 years!!!


My how the waterfront as changed over the last couple of years. The company I founded in December 1985 with Bill Plug has now been closed by Austal due to a lack of work! The top photo is the last resting place of that company!

I was told the other day that Image was closed 2 weeks ago. We built Image up to a point where by 1998 we were recognised as being the 3rd largest aluminium shipbuilding company in Australia. It its hey day Image was turning $50,000,000 a year and employing nearly 200 people. Back then Austal was employing nearly 2,000 people in WA alone.

I am told they are now back to under 300 people and there is limited work on the horizon….a factor of the GFC and the high Aussy dollar amongst other things!

Over the last 20 years the line share of vessels you would see moving around the Henderson harbour would have been aluminium. Now since the advent of the Oil and Gas boom in our North, the style and size of vessels has changed dramatically and they are all steel vessels and all have been built offshore.

I fear that our once booming aluminium shipbuilding industry in WA is going down the same path of the UK ship building industry, where everything will have to go offshore as the cost of labour and the exchange rates simply make it unaffordable to build larger vessels here any more except for some niche vessels.

The bottom photo is of a large crane that has just been towed down from Dampier. This beast can lift a 1,000 tonne payload.

The good news though is that out of the ashes is an evolution in the form of Evolution Commercial which is my latest shipbuilding company with partner Jurien Van Rongen. We are a tight low overhead company with a lot of experience behind us, finding our own new niche in this challenging world around us at present.

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7 Responses to Austal Image now closed after 26 years!!!

  1. Brett Morgan says:

    Hey mate I remember getting offered a job there back in around 2003-04 I never took for a few reasons but anyway I think its a sign of the times I don’t think its fair that everything is getting shipped over seas to be built it takes money out of our own country which could be better spent on maybe getting a better government hahaha slight funny but this is not funny I have seen it happen for years working in the mining industry when will our stupid little pupils of life who call them selves OUR government get there heads out of each others a+$s and get our country back on track.
    There has been more than one business gone down the gurgler from our mining industry and other so called Booms getting things made over seas when will someone say enough is enough eh mate.
    I hope your new found venture doesn’t go the same way Marky but I know a go getter like yourself will succeed like you said a little part of the market that hopefully wants class and quality stays here eh :).
    Nice pic of the crane to mate they are some big mussels there I have seen them in action at Pluto up North 😉

    • Hey Brett/ Andrew,

      Yes it is indeed a sign of the times and I for one am over it!

      It’s as tough as I have ever seen it out there and a lot of the problem is being exasperated by an incompetent Government and the lowest confidence rating ever of a Government.

      I reckon the only way we will see things start to turn around is when this Government is booted out fairly and squarely on their incompetent butts!

  2. Andrew Brown says:

    Sign of the times unfortunately Mark. Not really sure where it will all end up

  3. Hi Mark,

    I really like that photo of the crane. Its funny I much prefer shots of vessels like this than pretty ones. I guess I have an affinity with these types of boats as they are hardworking, honest boats that just get the job done with little glory or complaint.

    Jamie