Marine safety issues and actions

Towage procedures

Issue number: MO-2015-002-SI-04
Who it affects: All those responsible for navigation
Issue owner: Svitzer Australia; Fremantle Ports; Fremantle Pilots
Transport function: Marine: Shipboard operations
Background: Investigation Report 319-MO-2015-002
Issue release date: 17 October 2016
Current issue status: Adequately addressed
Issue status justification:

The actions taken by Fremantle Ports, Fremantle Pilots and Svitzer Australia clarify the roles and responsibilities of all parties with respect to the monitoring and management of tugs during pilotage and port entry. This increases safety margins and reduces the likelihood of a similar incident occurring in the future.

Safety issue description

Procedures for harbour tugs to meet inbound ships and for their co-ordinated movement in the Fremantle pilotage area were not clearly defined. On 28 February, inadequate co-ordination of the tugs and ineffective communication between Maersk Garonne’s pilot and the tug masters resulted in both tugs, the second one in particular, being significantly delayed from when they could reasonably have been expected to be on station. 

Proactive Action

Action number: MO-2015-002-NSA-010
Action organisation: Svitzer Australia
Date: 17 October 2016
Action status: Closed

Svitzer Australia has advised the ATSB that, in consultation with Fremantle Pilots, it has assessed and updated towage job allocation times, including defining tug on station times. Communication procedures between pilots and tug masters have also been clarified and agreed.

Further, tug masters, together with Fremantle Ports and Fremantle Pilots, now conduct regular simulator training including emergency response. Svitzer Australia’s tug masters also complete regular, Svitzer specific in-house training, including in contingency and emergency procedures, as part of employment requirements.

Proactive Action

Action number: MO-2015-002-NSA-011
Action organisation: Fremantle Pilots
Date: 17 October 2016
Action status: Closed

Fremantle Pilots advised that it has reviewed and updated the company’s safety management system and associated procedures and guidelines with respect to communications with tugs. Pilots are now required to establish contact with attending tugs when clearing the Deepwater Channel. They are to confirm the tugs will be on station, discuss intended manoeuvres and confirm visual sighting of the tugs prior to coming in line with the Inner Harbour leads.

Proactive Action

Action number: MO-2015-002-NSA-012
Action organisation: Fremantle Ports
Date: 17 October 2016
Action status: Closed

Fremantle Ports advised that it has clarified the role of the vessel traffic service in assisting ship arrivals and berthing. Meetings and discussions have been conducted with Fremantle Pilots and Svitzer Australia in relation to this incident during which the expectations, roles and responsibilities of all parties were clarified. The actions taken by these organisations were assessed as being sufficient to satisfy Fremantle Ports’ requirements with respect to safe entry of ships into the port.

Last update 27 July 2017