AGING bulker Iron Chieftain (IMO 9047740) has left Port Kembla under tow for its final journey to Turkey.

Launched back in 1993, the Iron Chieftain was one of the last iron ships with an Australian crew but suffered extensive damage during a fire last June.

The vessel’s departure was marked with a ceremony by the docks.

“For me personally, for eight years… I spent more time with the crew and on that ship than I did with my own family,” former crew member James Lisney told WIN News.

Iron Chieftain Departs

The crippled bulk carrier, the Iron Chieftain is on its way to Turkey from Port Kembla tonight – under tow in an ignominious end to it's twenty five years operations.Crowds flocked to the port to see her go – nine months after being crippled by an on-board fire.

Posted by WIN News Illawarra on Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Iron Chieftain is to be towed to Turkey by tug boat, a voyage expected to take more than three months. Once in Turkey it is to be broken up for recycling.


The Iron Chieftain was the third last Australian-crewed iron boat before the fire and since then BHP and Bluescope have opted to end the charters on Lowlands Brilliance and the Mariloula.

Local union official told WIN News the loss of the Iron Chieftain was “another nail in the coffin of Australian shipping”.