Investigation Prompts Upgrade in Australian Line's Weather Reporting

In January 2016, one of its ships was blown away from a pier and suffered minor damage to its lower bow ramp and bow doors, but shore infrastructure -- an elevated roadway and a ramp -- was extensively damaged. No one was injured.

The company managing a ship named Spirit of Tasmania II has implemented several changes in response to an Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation of a January 2016 mooring incident in Melbourne. ATSB reported the changes will ensure that weather monitoring and mooring systems and procedures are regularly checked and verified for changing weather conditions, reducing risks for ships with large numbers of passengers.

The ship was loading cargo, vehicles, and passengers a pier on Jan. 13 when strong wind gusts blew the ship away from the wharf. Its stern swung around until the ship was 90 degrees to the wharf and at risk of running aground. ATSB Chief Commissioner Greg Hood said the investigation found a band of severe thunderstorms passed across the pier at about 6 p.m. with little warning that day. "With the ship's bridge unattended during the port stay, none of its crew saw indicators of the approaching storm until just before the breakaway," he explained. "The crew responded swiftly, controlling the ship's movement using its thrusters and main propulsion machinery. With two tugs assisting, it was returned to the wharf just after 7 p.m."

The ship suffered minor damage to its lower bow ramp and bow doors, but shore infrastructure -- an elevated roadway and a ramp -- was extensively damaged. No one was injured.

The ship's management company, TT-Line Company, advised the ATSB it has changed shipboard weather monitoring and notification arrangements and made other changes to heavy weather and mooring procedures.

"In addition, there will be access to the Bureau of Meteorology website from the bridge, changes to on-board wind speed alarm settings, and a requirement for all mooring lines to be held on the winch brakes," Hood said. "TT-Line also engaged external marine consultants to examine and recommend any alterations to berthing arrangements and infrastructure at Station Pier."

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