Category: Industry / Weather

Spirit of Tasmania crash in Melbourne could have been avoided: report

14:08 UTC+8 May 11, 2017 | Rhiana Whitson

An accident which saw the Spirit of Tasmania II crash into a pier at Port Melbourne with 120 passengers onboard last year could have been prevented, according to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).

On January 13 last year, the ferry broke free of its moorings during wild weather, crashing into the car bridge and ramp at Station Pier causing extensive damage.

The crash grounded the TT Line ferry for several days, leaving passengers stranded in Melbourne and causing major freight delays.

The ship broke its moorings when the sudden storm struck with winds of up to 100 kilometres per hour.

But the ATSB said the breakaway could have been prevented if TT Line had been monitoring weather warnings that afternoon.

Its report said TT Line did not become aware of a "severe weather thunderstorm warning" until after passengers had begun boarding the ship, despite the Bureau of Meteorology issuing warnings earlier that afternoon.

It said the ship's bridge was unmanned while it was in port, and because of this none of its crew saw indicators of the approaching storm until just before the ship broke free.

"Precautions such as manning the bridge, monitoring the moorings or engaging tugs were therefore not taken," the report said.

"It is possible that the breakaway might have been prevented had the precautions for adverse weather been more carefully considered."

It also found the wind monitor and alarm outside the master's cabin did not activate in the thunderstorm because it was set to provide a warning of a steady gale-force wind.

The report also found the Port of Melbourne's warning system was only "partially effective" and did not inform the Spirit of Tasmania II of the expected storm's force.

But the report noted the ship's crew was responsible for monitoring weather warnings.

The ATSB said TT Line had since made changes to its procedures including "immediate notification of weather warnings, access to the Bureau of Meteorology website from the bridge, changes to the wind speed alarm settings and requiring all mooring lines to be held on the winch brakes".

It issued one recommendation to TT Line to complete safety action with respect to moorings.

TT Line chief executive Bernard Dwyer said the company had worked closely with the ATSB since the incident to minimise the risk of a similar incident occurring.

"TT Line has also continued to review all aspects of the business' operations in relation to our high priority on safety," he said.


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