In October, AAL Shipping (AAL) freely donated its operational and engineering expertise to help re-launch a historic Australian sailing ship, the Alma Doepel a 118-year-old three-masted topsail schooner that was in dry dock for rebuilding, having served the Victoria Community as a youth training vessel with over 4,000 young local cadets to her credit. Approximately AUD $3.5 million and over 80,000 volunteer hours have been spent on returning the Alma Doepel to its former glory, and it is expected to take another two years and AUD $1.5 million to complete the restoration work.
The 31,000-deadweight heavy lift vessel, AAL Shanghai, was chosen to execute the Alma Doepel operation. She is one of six mega-size MPVs serving the carrier’s ‘Asia to East Coast Australia Monthly Liner Service’ and was calling Melbourne on a southbound journey from North Asia, to discharge a cargo of heavy lift transformers. After discharging her project cargo, she was met by a barge carrying the newly refurbished hull of the Alma Doepel and, using her onboard heavy lift cranes, carefully lifted and manoeuvred the historic ship back to water after an eight-year absence.
The Alma Doepel was built in 1903 to transport goods such as timber, wheat, and jam around the coast of Australia. As part of its rich 118-year history, during the Pacific War she proudly served as a supply vessel to the Australian forces in New Britain (the present Papua New Guinea). And now, with more history still to be written, the Alma Doepel is the figurehead of a youth development programme to introduce young Victorians to seafaring and help them build resilience and awareness.
‘It is very important that as an industry we do what we can to keep Australian maritime history alive. AAL has been part of the Australian shipping community for over 25 years and to have played a role in preserving the Alma Doepel and her legacy was an absolute honour,’ said Frank Mueller, General Manager AAL Australia.
On behalf of the Board of Sail & Adventure Ltd., Restoration Project Director Peter Harris OAM thanked AAL for their assistance and professionalism in returning the Alma Doepel to water.
AAL operates scheduled monthly liner services between Asia and East and West Coast Australia, employing 10 young multipurpose heavy lift vessels along its two trade lanes. In 2022, to satisfy a growing demand for its cargo services, AAL will be deploying a further two 19,000 deadweight S-Class heavy lift vessels to its Asia – East Coast Australia Service.