With Australian shipbuilding undergoing significant change since those first surveyors were appointed, LR has been a central part of the key projects which have seen the sector transform it’s focus from large ship construction to the design and build of specialised vessels.  

Modest beginnings

It all started in 1872 when LR established its first surveyors in Melbourne and Sydney with David MacLeod and Robert F. Pockley appointed following an advertisement in the local press. In less than ten years LR had grown its surveyors to a team of eight across Australia and New Zealand.  

During the late 19th and early 20th century, LR helped to unite the maritime industry in Australia bringing the Australian ship registers into the new Universal Register of Shipping. Notable projects included the surveying and testing of steel plates and bars for the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1914. During the second world war LR dispatched surveyors to assist with shipyards and the building of merchant naval vessels including the LR classed River Glenelg bulk carrier delivered in 1944 at Whyalla shipyard. 

Australian shipbuilding heritage

LR’s strong relationship as a trusted adviser to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) since 1989 has seen key projects with eight RAN vessels entering into LR class before 2000. 2015 saw the flagship of the RAN HMAS Canberra built to LR naval classification rules whilst LR opened its Sydney Naval Liaison Office in 2020, improving our dedicated support to the naval sector within the region. In the same year LR was appointed as the classification society for Australia’s Hunter Class Frigate Program, the largest surface ship project in the nation’s defence history and built by BAE Systems. 

As a response to the increase in demand for smaller specialised vessel at the end of the 20th century, LR developed its own Special Service Craft Rules in 1996, a set of requirements well-received in Australia and across the industry. The construction of LR classed yacht Aussie Rules teed off an exciting start to the 21st centuryBuilt in 2003, the Aussie Rules is the largest aluminium and composite yacht in the world and was originally built for Australian golfing legend Greg Norman. 

Playing an important role in Australian polar research, LR has classed a number of icebreaker vessels including the Aurora Australis, launched in 1989 at Newcastle, New South Wales and more recently its replacement vessel Nuyina, built and delivered in 2021.  

Group photo of Australian colleagues on the deck of a tall ship
LR celebrated our 150-year anniversary in Australia with with clients, colleagues and members of the Australian maritime industry joining us onboard the James Craig tall ship.

Looking to the future

Celebrating 150 years in Australia, we look ahead to the future including the launch of the Spirit of Tasmania IV and V being built and launched in 2024 to LR class. The red and white spirit vessels operate a vital link between Tasmania and the Australian mainland, and the new ships offer a boost to the Tasmanian economy with increased capacity for passengers and freight.  

Today, LR has five offices and 47 employees in Australia, with surveyors and specialists covering different technical disciplines and we continue to offer support to the Australian maritime sector.   

LR is working to advance safety and performance to tackle our industry’s most pressing challenges in Australia and across the globe with our knowledge and technical expertise. Acting as a trusted adviser to our clients, we can continue to navigate the journey towards digital transformation and a green energy transition. 

Remko Hottentot, LR’s Business Development Manager for Australasia, added: “Whatever the future holds, our focus on safety will remain undiminished and unwavering. We will always do our best to serve our valued clients in Australia, as we have been doing for the past 150 years.”