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
On 11 August the IMO reported that it had joined international efforts to assist the Government of Mauritius, following an oil leak from the bulk carrier mv Wakashio, which ran aground on 25 July off Pointe d’Esny natural area, south-eastern coast of Mauritius.
IMO and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)/United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Joint Environment Unit have jointly deployed an oil spill response expert. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and border closures in Mauritius, the expert was (on 11 August) awaiting onward travel via specially chartered UN flight from Nairobi, following COVID tests.
Approximately 3,894 tonnes of low-sulphur fuel oil, 207 tonnes of diesel and 90 tonnes of lubricant oil were on board the Wakashio. An amount of oil leaked following severe weather.
It is understood that the affected area is located in a very sensitive zone that includes the Blue Bay Marine Park, Iles aux Aigrettes, and the Ramsar sites.
At the time of writing (11 August) satellite mapping support was being sought from UNOSAT, to provide an indication of the extent of the spill and to inform the response effort.
A new Just In Time Arrival Guide which aims to provide both port and shipping sectors with practical guidance on how to facilitate Just In Time Arrivals has been released. This was reported by IMO on 11 August.
To download the Guide readers are invited to see IMO web link here: http://www.imo.org/en/OurWork/PartnershipsProjects/Documents/GIA-just-in-time-hires.pdf
This Guide has been developed by the Global Industry Alliance to support low carbon shipping (Low Carbon GIA), based on research and discussion amongst its membership, and the Guide documents the findings of a series of industry roundtables which brought together nearly 50 companies and organizations who are key stakeholders in the port call process.