Preliminary Report


Preliminary report published: 18 April 2016

The information contained in this Preliminary report is released in accordance with section 25 of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 and is derived from the ongoing investigation of the occurrence. Readers are cautioned that new evidence will become available as the investigation progresses that will enhance the ATSB's understanding of the accident as outlined in this Preliminary report. As such, no analysis or findings are included in this report.

What happened

On the afternoon of 13 January 2016, the roll-on roll-off ship Spirit of Tasmania II was loading passengers and vehicles in Melbourne. At 1752, strong wind gusts blew the ship off the wharf and all but one of the ship’s mooring lines (on the bow) parted. As it broke away, the stern swung around until the ship was 90 degrees to the wharf and parallel to the nearby public beach, in danger of grounding. Action was taken to arrest the swing and the ship was returned to the wharf without touching bottom.

Wharf cargo and vehicle loading infrastructure was seriously damaged. The ship suffered minor bow damage. No one was injured.

What the ATSB has found so far

Based on the preliminary information that ATSB obtained, it was apparent that a band of severe thunderstorms passed across the area, including the location of Spirit of Tasmania II, with comparatively little notice. As the ship’s bridge was unattended throughout the port stay, none of the crew saw indicators of an approaching storm until immediately before the breakaway.

The ship’s crew responded swiftly. The bridge was manned and machinery was operational by the time the ship had turned 90 degrees to the wharf. The ship’s movement was then controlled using its thrusters and propulsion until it could be turned, with the assistance of a harbour tug, away from the beach and returned to the wharf.

Investigation direction

The investigation is ongoing and will focus on weather events in the Port of Melbourne area, and how the port and port users prepare for such events. This will include:

  • The ship’s managers’ (TT Line Company) preparations and procedures
  • Spirit of Tasmania II preparations and procedures for port stays and weather events, including mooring arrangements and equipment
  • Port of Melbourne procedures and actions
  • Bureau of Meteorology weather forecasting and warnings
  • distribution of weather information and warnings to and amongst port users.

The occurrence


Sources and submissions