P&O Maritime has an illustrious legacy as a member of the P&O Group. The legendary P&O Steam Navigation Company, established in 1837, is widely regarded as the pioneer of modern-day international shipping. With offices in Australia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, the UAE, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay and Argentina, P&O Maritime operates in all seven continents. P&O’s history is proudly preserved through the P&O Heritage Collection.
The post-World War II world was entering a new era of cheap energy with oil discoveries across the globe when P&O, already a veteran among international shipping companies identified a new opportunity - servicing the offshore oil and gas industry in Australia. Beaufort Shipping Agency, the Australia-based subsidiary of P&O, received several vessels from its parent and in 1968 renamed itself as P&O Offshore Services. This company subsequently built over 20 vessels in Australia and operated them within Australia and South East Asia. Subsequently renamed P&O Maritime, the company grew rapidly through the energy-hungry 1970s, expanding the services offered, moving into new geographic locations and establishing a regional management structure.
In the mid-1970s, P&O invested in a salvage operation, United Salvage, which successfully grew its business around Australasia. This activity was subsequently sold to Adsteam Marine (now owned by Svitzer).
Building on its success and to meet rising market demand in South East Asia, P&O Maritime launched Austen Maritime Services in 1986, with its base in Singapore, a 50/50 joint venture with the Stena Group of Sweden. Austen Maritime supplies manning, agency, ship chandlery and other general services throughout South East Asia and was the first of our regional operations to provide management services. After 27 successful years of operations P&O Maritime divested its interests in Austen Maritime in 2013.
P&O Maritime also launched a new business line when it secured a long term contract to build and operate barges in Papua New Guinea, carrying copper concentrates along river systems and coastal areas. Over the years, our business has expanded to provide a full range of cargo services and river transportation for the region’s mining industry.
The last decade of the 20th century saw a series of important milestones in our evolution, beginning with the acquisition of 50% ownership of Carpentaria Shipping Services (CSS). This is a joint venture with the local community that owns and operates under our management, a self-discharging bulk carrier in Australia's Northern Territory.
This was followed by Defence Maritime Services (DMS), a joint venture with Serco Asia Pacific to successfully tender for the outsourcing of the Royal Australian Navy Port Services and Support Craft activities.
In 1997, International Offshore Services (IOS) was launched in a joint venture with Farstad Shipping of Norway, to own and operate offshore supply vessels within the Australasian region under the management of P&O Maritime. Operations kicked off in early 1998 with seven vessels and within five years IOS’s fleet had grown to 20 vessels. The rapid success saw the need for the ships to operate in a global market, which began to conflict with other Farstad operations, and subsequently Farstad acquired the P&O Maritime interest in 2003.
In 1998, we acquired the l Southern Supporter vessel from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority along with a five-year contract to provide it with navigational aids and to conduct maintenance work. The Southern Supporter continues to be on long-term charter to the Dutch company Fugro, supporting their highly specialist geo-survey activities for the Australian offshore oil and gas industry.
The new millennium saw P&O Maritime extend business operations to Galway, Ireland, to provide technical and operational support services and ship management for the Marine Institute Ireland’s marine science and research vessels, RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager.
In 2005, Diversified Mining Services won a six-year, extendable contract from the Australian Customs Services to manage the maintenance and support services for eight Bay Class Patrol Boats.
Two years later, P&O Maritime signed a deal with Zinifex’s (now MMG Century Limited) to provide management and operation services for their self-discharging bulk carrier MV Wunma. The vessel operates from the port of Karumba on the south eastern side of the Gulf of Carpentaria in north Queensland, Australia. Our operation supports Zinifex’s Century Mine, the largest zinc and lead mine in the country.
DP World purchases the P&O Group of Companies, which included P&O Maritime.
In 2007, we acquired the French Antarctic resupply ship, L’Astrolabe, and secured a long-term contract to operate this specially-equipped vessel for the Institut Polaire Francais Paul Emile Victor and Territoire des Terres Australes and Antarctiques Francaises. L’Astrolabe plays the twin roles of ferrying resupplies to the institute’s Antarctic bases and supporting its marine science and research activities.
P&O Maritime expanded into the United Arab Emirates taking over operation, crewing and maintenance of more than 20 vessels including tug boats, pilot boats and line boats in Dubai. This provides vital support to DP World’s flagship Jebel Ali terminal and Port Rashid.
P&O Maritime expands its operations into South America with the acquisition of 70% of the shares in the Dos Santos Group Bulk Barging business based in Paraguay. This business provides pusher tugs and bulk barges that operate on the Paraguay/Parana river waterway for the transport of grain and iron ore. Offices are established in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Asuncion, Paraguay.
P&O Maritime’s presence in the European marine science and research vessel market was further strengthened in 2009 following its success in England’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) international tender process. Services provided include vessel operation and management of RV Cefas Endeavour and its associated research equipment.
P&O Maritime moves into a regional business unit structure and the regional business units are Australasia, Europe, Middle East & Africa and South America. The Corporate Office will provide governance and support for the regional business units.
P&O Maritime were successful in securing a contract for the provision of towage services to DP World in the Port of Sokhna, Egypt. Service provision for this contract was enabled through the acquisition and mobilisation of two tugs from Spain.
2011 was a very busy year for us. Our Serco Asia Pacific Joint Venture, DMS, began the decade with a contract with global defence ship builders Austal to support the build and operation of eight new Cape Class Patrol Boats for the Australian Customs and Border Protection Services.
We also commissioned 24 barges and two new pusher tugs – P&O Mburucuya and P&O Ceibo – for use in our South American operations along the river.
In another first, the Santa Ana, one of three Incat Crowther-built catamarans designed specifically for use as a Crew Transfer Vessel by offshore wind farm operators, was completed and commissioned for work. This was followed by the delivery of two sister vessels, the Scirocco and the Chinook.
The Australia Customs Service boat, the Oceanic Viking, was converted into a multi-tasking vessel, renamed the European Supporter, and sent to Europe with a new lease of life. Its new roles include offshore survey, construction projects and the laying of inter-array cables for offshore wind farms.
We expanded our operations into East Africa with an agreement to provide the Port of Maputo in Mozambique a range of services including management, pilotage, mooring services, crewing and maintenance of tugs and boats. The deal also includes a commitment to invest in new assets and training.
Meanwhile, we secured a long term contract to build and operate a 90m Coastal Oil Tanker, to carry condensate along the Fly River, Papua New Guinea, to support the Stanley field development located in PNG.
In November, we sold our 50% equity stake in DMS to its joint venture partner Serco Group.
2012 was a landmark year for P&O, which completed 175 years of its illustrious history. P&O Maritime entered a new era with a major company restructuring and the relocation of our Corporate Office to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
We secure a contract to provide towage services to Yemen LNG in Balhaf, Yemen. 4 Vessels are deployed in early 2014.
We acquire a majority stake in Remolcadores de Puerto y Altura S.A. (REPASA), the Spanish operator of offshore support vessels for the energy industry. The new entity flies the P&O Maritime colours. REPASA wins the tender to provide towage and mooring services to Punta Europe LNG terminal in Equatorial Guinea owned and operated by Marathon Oil.  vessels are deployed.