The MV Indies Trader is a legendary boat, whose history spans decades, continents and has done more surf exploration than any vessel in human history. She was originally named the M.V. Rader and was built by K.B. Welding Works in Bulimba on the Brisbane River, Brisbane in 1972. The vessel was designed by noted Australian Naval Architect Mr. R. A. James.
The vessel was built for Mr. David Barnett. Dave, a New Zealander, raised in Fiji just after WWII. Dave, a surveyor by trade was once New Zealand’s Spear Fishing Champion and a runner up in the 1966 World Spear Fishing titles in Tahiti. He abandoned his trade and came to Australia in the mid 1960’s with his girlfriend Verna (now his wife) and secured one of South Australia’s first Abalone Licenses. He worked out of Streaky Bay. In the late 60s he hooked up with a group of divers who were onto a small bonanza. Copper prices were at an all time high. Scrap brass and manganese bronze was fetching in today’s money the equivalent of $20,000 a ton. New Guinea, The New Hebrides, Solomon Islands and Indonesia were littered with WW2 wrecks whose propellers and condenser tubes were suddenly worth serious money as scrap. It was like a mini gold rush. Barry May, Wally Gibbens, Desy Woodleigh, Ron Hutcho, Kevin Baldwin, Bruce Trotter, Peter Baker, and Jim Forrest were other characters from this era.
The “Rader” was built specifically for salvaging scrap; the vessel’s main features are an extremely large cargo hold, a 15 ton bow lift, a 5 ton cargo boom, specially reinforced port side gunnel and ballast tanks for lifting.
Around the end of 1972 after scrapping most of the known wrecks in Papua New Guinea the search for scrap brought the vessel to Irian Jaya, the Mollucas and then Bali Indonesia. Dave scored a job to widen the Benoa harbour entrance using explosives. As the scrap price deteriorated and he had done most of the available wrecks in Indonesia he turned to civil dive contracting and regular salvage work, refloating and salvage of several ships and barges. Whereas most companies would rely on large equipment and brute force, Dave specialized in ingenuity and light equipment, normally using the Rader and the equipment onboard only.