Two tugs sink following collision with cement carrier at Tasmania’s Port of Devonport

Port of Devonport (Photo: TasPorts)

Australian authorities are responding to an incident wherein two tugs sank after being struck by a passing cargo vessel at the Port of Devonport in Tasmania.

The incident occurred at approximately 11:50 local time on Friday, January 28, when the cement carrier Goliath collided with Campbell Cove and York Cove, two tugs operated by local company TasPorts.

Both tugs are currently submerged alongside the wharf at Devonport’s Berth Three West and are located on the seabed. The vessels remain secured to the wharf and TasPorts is continuing to monitor their status.

TasPorts said both tugs were berthed and stationary at the time of the incident. The impact of the collision has resulted in both tugs taking on water and, as a result, both vessels are now partially submerged.

No crewmembers were on board the tugs at the time of the incident. Advice to date confirms no injuries were sustained as a result of the incident.

Aligned with the Tasmanian Marine Oil and Chemical Spill Contingency Plan and the identified risk of oil spill from the submerged tugs, the Tasmanian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has since taken control of the site as the leading agency.

The EPA said an estimated 10,000 litres of diesel and fuel oil spillage have been removed from the Mersey River so far by two oil skimmers.

An exclusion zone has been established around the identified wharf area. Meanwhile, marine operations in the port are under continual assessment by the harbour master.

TasPorts Chief Operating Officer Stephen Casey said the company has commenced planning for salvage operations for the tugs. Salvage specialists have mobilised on site and divers are undertaking thorough assessments of the vessels to support planning of next steps.

Mr Casey added that the collision has also caused damage to the port’s west wharf infrastructure.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has launched an investigation into the incident.

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