The Varley Story – Part 26

The MV Sygna run aground on Stockton Beach, 1974.

Varley’s marine services had become internationally renowned by the 1980s, not least as the result of several major rescue and repair efforts throughout the preceding decade.

First of all, in 1973 Varley was asked to form a joint venture with Tubemakers Australia to convert the MV Port Kembla into a drill ship, later to be renamed the Regional Endeavour. This was the first project of its kind in Australia and was worth over $17m.

But perhaps the most famous of all Varley’s ship repair projects throughout this era was the attempted salvage of the MV Sygna in 1974. Wind gusts of up to 170 kph blasted Newcastle in late May, running the Synga to ground on Stockton Beach (just north of Varley’s headquarters in Newcastle). Varley assisted with the removal of equipment and supplies from the ship, and was also asked to remove the hull from the beach – a major operation and largely outside Varley’s traditional experience. Nevertheless, the answer was ‘yes, we can do it’.

Eventually, despite Varley’s best efforts, the ship could not be salvaged due to lacking efforts by other parties involved, and as a result the Sygna remains on Stockton beach (albeit largely rusted and eroded away) to this day. Regardless of the failed attempts, the enormous efforts by Varley’s troops to salvage the wrecked ship was acknowledged by many within the industry, and the company’s willingness to pull out all stops to make the job a success set up Varley for other similar challenges in future…

Stay tuned for more of the incredible Varley Story.