Update: Monday July 4, 6:00pm — The cargo ship that lost power in rough seas and horrid weather off the NSW south coast has been declared stable as tugboats work to tow it to sea.
Per The Guardian, the operation to tug MV Portland Bay out into after waters away from the coastline began around 5pm on Monday evening. Three tugboats had battled against 8m high surf to reach the ship which had become adrift about a kilometre from the coast south of Cronulla.
#WATCH // @Lifesaverhelo is responding to a stranded container ship off the Royal National Park. Conditions are currently too rough to attempt to winch the crew from the ship.— Surf Life Saving NSW (@slsnsw) July 4, 2022
The ship has no power and is currently 1nm offshore. IRBS from #thirroulslsc and a jetski are on standby pic.twitter.com/O5s5TViek5
NSW Port Authority chief operations officer John Finch said the next few hours would be “critical” for the rescue mission before the weather gets even worse. The current conditions are making the tow difficult and the ship has a chance of rolling in the high swells.
“The priority is getting this vessel and its crew into safer waters and away from land and the potential of grounding,” he said.
“All tugs have now arrived and connected to the ship so the operation has commenced to raise its anchors and move this ship safely out to sea in a slow and controlled manner.
“The conditions make the towage operation quite difficult. In [an] 8-metre swell the vessel is going to be rising and falling and rolling. That’s going to put a lot of stress on the equipment and the tug lines.”
Original: Monday July 4, 11:22am — A cargo ship off the coast south of Sydney reportedly became out of control in wild weather and an emergency rescue operation is underway to save the crew onboard.
Per Nine News, the Portland Bay container vessel lost power and became adrift just off the coast of the Royal National Park around 9:30am Monday morning after leaving Wollongong at about 7:30am.
It’s floating approximately a kilometre from the coast and is feared to be on course to crash into the cliffs on the shoreline south of Wattamolla.
The ship PORTLAND BAY is moving around too much in rough seas and weather conditions are now too bad for rescue helicopters to fly. Will be towed away by tug boat. Non-essential crew to be rescued by tug. @9NewsSyd pic.twitter.com/MCbVG0OHnk— andrew rickert (@_rockrit) July 4, 2022
Multiple helicopters from Polair, NSW Police, local Toll rescue helicopters and a military chopper flew in to assist with the rescue. However, the current weather conditions are too bad and the ship is moving around in the rough seas to airlift the entire crew to safety.
A tugboat is now working to help the boat and a secondary tugboat is en route to help pull the cargo ship to sea, but won’t arrive for at least two hours.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the State Government is doing all it can to help rescue eight non-essential crew from the boat, and confirmed that a larger tug is now on the way from Port Botany.
“It is obviously a very precarious position and our thoughts are with those on board,” he said.
More to come.