Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
On 28 July the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) reported that Hay Point Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) Operator Warren Bath had been recognised by the inaugural VTS award for his coordination of an incident involving a bulk carrier. Queensland’s Hay Point is one of the largest coal export ports in the world, see: www.nqbp.com.au
VTSO Bath was nominated for the award after coordinating the response action of allied services including tugs, port pilots and helicopter operators when reports came through of a bulk carrier drifting 20 metres off the berth at 0100 on 21 April 2019.
Within ten minutes of receiving the call, the ship had turned 90 degrees to the berth and was in danger of being damaged, and causing damage to its surroundings.
Mr Bath’s quick response ensured the vessel was brought back alongside within three and a half hours with no damage to the bulk carrier, to other ships berthed at the port or to the offshore terminal infrastructure. No pollution event arose.
Two other nominations highly commended
Port Hedland VTS was commended for the successful response after receiving a call from the ore carrier Cape Reliance reporting people clinging to a drifting upturned boat. Strong currents were rapidly pushing the capsized boat and the desperate men further out to sea. Port Hedland is the world’s largest bulk export port, with exports including iron ore, lithium and salt. See: https://www.pilbaraports.com.au/ports/port-of-port-hedland
The VTS coordinated police and marine rescue crews, including a pilot boat and marine pilot transfer helicopter from the port, to assist with the search and rescue.
Four people were rescued from the water within two hours of the initial report, after spending nearly seven hours in the water.
Todd Stewart and Ricky Blake from Brisbane VTS received commendations for coordinating local vessels to assist in the search for a sinking recreational craft off Caloundra Headland in the middle of the night on 9 June 2019. They called on ships anchored in the vicinity of a search mission to help widen the search area.
Brisbane VTS chart is shown here: https://www.publications.qld.gov.au/dataset/0b23b6c7-713a-474b-bfc4-b1520c947d3e/resource/fe982eb9-5ab3-439c-bfe7-57c01b959c25/fs_download/brisbane_ppm_master_august_2019-sec-15.1.2.pdf
Incredibly, the master of a tanker in the area radioed VTS and reported seeing people in the water south of the ship in the morning light. Mr Stewart and Mr Blake relayed this information to Queensland Water Police resulting in the rescue of two adults and a child.
Recognising outstanding contributions
The Australian VTS Award was launched in December 2019 to recognise an outstanding contribution by a VTS to the safety of life at sea, safety and efficiency of navigation and protection of the marine environment which is beyond their normal operational scope.
VTSs provide for the safe and efficient movement of ships and help prevent dangerous traffic situations. These awards provide national recognition to those involved in vessel traffic services in Australia while also raising the profile of the 15 VTSs across Australia that manage traffic in ports and surrounding waterways.
The award also recognises VTS personnel and the important services they provide among stakeholders and wider industry.
Nominations open for the 2020-2021 Australian VTS Award on 1 October
The bulk carrier Eaubonne (former name GH Storm Cat) is now (4 May) under quarantine in Durban harbour. On the same day that the South African government issued a statement saying that the ports were on high alert for the Indian variant of the Coronavirus (B.1.617) that has emerged in devastating numbers in India, it was learnt that a ship that arrived on Sunday night, 2 May, has been placed under quarantine after the discovery that a crew member had died en route. Another 14 crew have since been taken for testing for Covid-19.
‘All our ports of entry employ stringent containment procedures to minimise the importation of COVID-19,’ said Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize in the statement issued on 4 May 2021.
The ship Eaubonne (IMO 9663104), sailed from the port of Kandla in India on 18 April on a 14-day voyage to Durban, where she arrived off port on 1 May, prior to entering port and berthing at Maydon Wharf 2 on 2 May at 2000.
During the voyage one of the crew members passed away and authorities in Durban were advised that he died of a heart attack.
The ship was carrying a cargo of 6,250 tons of rice to be discharged in Durban.
However, on 4 May dock workers and others working on the ship were told to stop all operations and that the vessel was under quarantine. Fourteen of the crew were taken for COVID-19 testing but the real worry is that a large number of dockworkers had already been exposed to the crew.
The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) welcomes the adoption of the own-initiative (INI) report of TRAN-Committee Chair, Karima Delli*, on technical and operational measures for more efficient and cleaner maritime transport by the European Parliament. This was reported on 28 April.
It is understood that the report was adopted with 453 votes in favour, 92 against, and 154 abstentions.
The final text adopted in the European Parliament plenary contains many of the key strong points which are supported by ESPO: