Cargo ship stranded in worsening weather off Victorian coast

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Two tugboats have been damaged trying to rescue a stranded cargo ship loaded with vehicles off the Victorian coastline as wild weather conditions deteriorate.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said the 180-metre Japanese carrier Kariyushi Leader was 100 kilometres south of Phillip Island on Friday night.

Car carrier Kariyushi Leader, pictured in Western Australia in 2020.

The ship, which was on its way from Laem Chabang in Thailand to Melbourne, lost steering on Wednesday afternoon. Twenty-three crew members are on the cargo ship.

Two emergency towage tugboats deployed on Friday were damaged while trying to help rescue the carrier, AMSA said.

A spokesperson for the authority said the situation was stable, and the ship was moving away from Victoria’s coast under its own power.

“Over the course of today, both emergency towage vessels have sustained damage. This has resulted in both tugs returning to shore,” the spokesperson said.

“AMSA’s highest priority is keeping the ship and its crew safe and minimising risks to the coastline.”

The carrier vessel was moving at 4 knots at 7.30pm, according to maritime analytics website MarineTraffic. AMSA said the ship was using its bow thrusters to steer.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning for high winds across southern and eastern parts of Victoria throughout Friday night.

Rough surf conditions and damaging winds with peak gusts of about 90km/h were expected across Victoria’s coasts near Melbourne and Gippsland.

“Conditions are expected to broadly ease during Friday evening,” the weather bureau said in its warning.

Wind gusts of 111km/h were recorded at Mount Nowa Nowa in Gippsland and Mount Gellibrand, north of the Otway National Park, on Friday morning.

The State Emergency Service received more than 1110 calls for assistance across 24 hours as a result of the high winds, primarily for fallen trees and building damage.

Warrnambool and Port Fairy, on Victoria’s south-west coast, were the worst affected parts of the state.

A ticket booth at the South Warrnambool Football Club was blown down, Nine News reported, while buildings were damaged at the city’s showgrounds.

Angus Hines from the Bureau of Meteorology said that “the winds we’ve had today have certainly been right towards the top end of the spectrum for those winds that you’d expect to see through the spring month”.

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