Stranded cargo ship: Bad weather hinders crew rescue off Sydney coast

An oil-laden bulk carrier narrowly avoided hitting the New South Wales coastline during rough weather, but its crew is still stranded.

Bad weather currently hitting parts of New South Wales has hampered efforts to rescue a cargo ship stranded without power off the coast of Sydney.

Portland Bay, the 169m bulk carrier registered in Hong Kong, left Wollongong around 7am on Monday but went offline shortly after sailing.

A massive rescue effort then began to rescue the ship and its 21 crew members when rough seas pushed the ship against the rocks off Queen’s National Park in southern Sydney.

There are tons of fuel oil aboard the ship, and if it hits the rocks, it could lead to an ecological disaster on the coast of New South Wales.

Three tugboats were deployed yesterday to help move the bulk carrier further out to sea and away from the coast, but adverse weather conditions hampered the effort.

Port Authority Chief Operating Officer John Finch. Sunrise Tuesday morning that “terrible” weather conditions caused the tow ropes to break.

“We tried to tow the ship further out to sea from the coastline. But the weather conditions were quite harsh. In heavy seas, the cables that we used to tow the ship, unfortunately, parted, ”he said.

The tugboats managed to ferry the ship even further before the cables broke, and the authorities decided to anchor the ship and wait out the bad weather.

Mr Finch said repairs to the ship’s engine had taken much longer than they had anticipated and authorities are now considering sending the ship to Botany Port to assist with repairs.

Attempts to evacuate crew members from the ship by helicopter were also thwarted by heavy rain and strong winds.

Mr. Finch said the crew were fine and the safest place for them right now was on the ship.

“The ship is in relative safety. She sits comfortably. Anchors hold the ship,” he told the program.

“As long as everything remains in a safe and stable position, we will keep the crew on board. We will keep an eye on this. We are waiting for the weather gods to shine a little brighter, and then we will tow the ship to the port of Botany.”

More than 24 hours have passed since the crew first asked for help.

Mr Finch said the ship is now in a “much better position” than yesterday, but warned that the operation to retrieve it was likely to be slow and painstaking.

“We are waiting for the weather to improve, as I said. It may take a day or two,” he said.

“Although the ship is safely where it is, we are quite happy with the situation at the moment. We will wait for the weather window to start the repair.

Originally published as Bad weather prevented the rescue of 21 crew members of the stranded cargo ship