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No checks at Gladstone port before ship ran aground
31/07/2012 - One of Australia's busiest ports was not conducting equipment checks on departing ships when a coal carrier ran aground last year, a report says. Marty Silk
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The fully laden 320,000-tonne ship was leaving the Port of Gladstone in central Queensland on April 29 last year when its steering failed and it hit a sand bar.
The Panamanian-registered Dumun was stranded on the sand bar in the harbour's main channel for an hour and a half before it was refloated and towed back to an emergency anchorage.
No oil or other pollutants escaped from the 190-metre ship.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau's inquiry into the grounding discovered the linkage between the ship's tiller and rudder angle transmitter had fallen apart.
The steering equipment appeared to be operating normally but it was showing incorrect readings, its report says.
By the time the crew realised something was wrong, the Dumun had run aground.
The report says the port had no rigorous pre-departure checks and no contingency plans to deal with an accident.
"It was found that a comprehensive safety management system had not been implemented in Gladstone with the aim of identifying, evaluating and controlling pilotage-related risk," it says.
The ATSB urged regulators and port authorities to consider all the risks associated with the passage of deep draught ships within their ports and have appropriate plans in place to deal with foreseeable emergencies.
Earlier this year the Queensland Resources Council said there were 4800 large commercial vessels travelling annually to ports adjacent to the reef.
By 2020, the number was forecast to reach 7800 a year, with coal ships accounting for 4000 to 4500.
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