The Port of Melbourne vessel traffic service (VTS) procedures for adverse weather were not comprehensive and, hence, its response on 13 January was only partially effective. One important consequence was that VTS’s advance warning of storm force winds did not reach all relevant parties, including Spirit of Tasmania II’s master.
The notice to mariners and the port information notice clarify the responsibility of ship’s masters to actively and continuously monitor weather and related vessel traffic service communications via VHF radio.
The Victorian Ports Corporation (Melbourne) advised the ATSB that it had issued Victorian Notices to Mariners number 032-2016 advising that Melbourne vessel traffic service will broadcast Bureau of Meteorology weather warnings on VHF channel 12. All masters of ships in port waters, including at berth or anchorage, are to ensure a listening watch is maintained at all times.
A Port Information Notice (PIN number 08/2016) was also issued for passenger ships at Station Pier to ensure adequate mooring lines are used throughout the ships’ stay. Masters are reminded that the berth is exposed to strong winds and inclement weather. They are to keep a listening watch on VHF channel 12.
The issuing of these notices clarifies the responsibility for ship’s masters to maintain a watch on the weather and Melbourne vessel traffic service communications. This will reduce the likelihood that port users remain unaware of any approaching bad weather.