Boat stops in carrier’s path
Recreational boaters need to take even greater safety precautions after a small vessel broke down in the path of an oncoming iron ore carrier in late March, the Pilbara Ports Authority says.
A marine pilot had earlier blown five short blasts to warn the vessel to clear out of the path of the 300m-long, fully loaded iron ore carrier.
However, on observing the vessel was immobile, the iron ore carrier manoeuvred to the western side of the channel to avoid a collision.
The PPA then deployed a tug to tow the 5.4m boat out of the way before the vessel was eventually escorted by a linesboat to the Richardson Street boat ramp.
Acting harbour master Leon Strydom said the incident highlighted the importance of recreational vessel safety in and around one of the world’s busiest ports.
“Skippers must keep clear of large commercial vessels in the port at all times, and be fully aware of environmental and water conditions, ” he said.
“The safety of people and vessels in port waters remains PPA’s priority, including the uninterrupted commercial operation of the shipping channel.”
The incident comes just weeks after the PPA announced it would oppose efforts to build a marina on the western side of the Spoilbank because of concerns it could lead to a collision between recreational boats and large vessels using the shipping channel.
The PPA said it had recorded 24 incidents in the Port Hedland harbour involving recreational vessels over the past year.
Resident Russell Long captured the unfolding incident with his camera just before heading to work at nearby Hedland Emporium.
He said he had seen iron ore carriers blowing their warning horns before when small vessels were well out of their way and not likely to cause collisions.
“This time it was actually urgent, ” he said.
“It is good to see all the safety precautions in action.
“There didn’t seem to be any panic.”
But as a supporter of a future Spoilbank facility, Mr Long suggested a nearby marina might have helped assist in the rescue rather than being a cause of problems to large shipping in the channel.
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