The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has commenced an investigation into an incident involving the container ship CMA CGM Puccini when departing Port Melbourne on 25 May 2023.

The following is attributable to ATSB Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell:

“On 25 May, CMA CGM Puccini departed its berth in Swanson Dock under the conduct of a harbour pilot. During the ship's transit of the Yarra River it is reported that the ship experienced a steering gear failure.

“While the pilot and crew were responding to the steering failure, the ship moved to the side of the channel and contacted a navigation beacon, damaging it.  A short time later, some steering control was restored, and the pilot called the two tugs that had attended for unberthing to assist the ship.

“The ship was then moved to a berth in Webb Dock, where the Australian Maritime Safety Authority detained it while technicians and others conducted checks and inspections of its steering gear and hull on 25 and 26 May.

“The steering gear was found operational, and no defects were identified. An underwater hull inspection did not identify any damage due to the incident or evidence of grounding. The ship was released from detention on the evening of 26 May and it subsequently departed Port Melbourne without incident.

“As part of its investigation, the ATSB will examine the circumstances leading to the steering gear failure and the response to it, determine any contributing factors to the failure and related safety issues.

“The ATSB deployed a team of investigators with experience in marine navigation, engineering and data recovery to interview the ship's master and crew, and the pilot and other relevant persons, to inspect the steering gear and systems, to download and analyse recorded data for the incident, and to examine relevant records and documents.

“Should a critical safety issue be identified at any time during the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify the operators of the ship and the port, and other relevant parties so that appropriate and timely safety action can be taken. A final report will be published at the conclusion of the investigation.”

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