Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet praises ‘heroic’ tug crews for preventing ships from running aground

The 170-meter-long vessel’s loss of power on Monday raised alarms it could crash on the coast, endangering the crew and spilling 1,000 tonnes of fuel it was carrying en route to Melbourne after having unloaded cement at Port Kembla.

“They’re as refreshed as they can get,” Mr Holliday said of the crew. A first attempt to winch them from the ship had to be abandoned as the fierce wind and waves made it dangerous.

Portland Bay lost power on Monday as the wild weather hammered NSW. FRG

“It would be tough for anyone in nice weather conditions. The weather is terrible. And so they did a very good job.

The vessel was 1.2 nautical miles off Botany Bay near Cronulla Beach on Tuesday after sustaining engine damage following attempts by the crew to keep the vessel clear of shore.

“It kind of snowballed from there. But the ship is now in a stable position. The engine is fully repairable,” Mr. Holliday said.

“The ship itself is intact. He is in good condition, he is in a safe position. So everything is under control as it stands, and we intend to make sure that remains the case.

Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet hailed the “heroic” efforts of the tug crews who braved dangerous conditions to pull the ship away from the rocks.

A third tug shoved its way through 10m seas from Newcastle on Tuesday to reach the vessel.

Mr Perrottet earlier warned that the risk posed by the ship was far from over as the NSW flood crisis and dangerous weather continued.

“With this torrential weather and the environment we find ourselves in, the situation can change quickly,” he said.

“More support is on the way. I want to thank those men and women of those crews last night [for their] heroic work in incredibly dangerous conditions. To have 11 meter swells and do this job is incredibly impressive.

The cables attached to the ship snapped during an attempt to tow it to deeper water, following the aborted crew rescue mission.

“As the tug goes one direction and the ship goes another, you know, there was too much pressure on that cable,” Holliday told ABC radio.

“That in itself is quite an unpleasant experience. But we live to fight another day.

“Doing this stuff in relatively benign conditions is hard enough, so when you throw really strong winds and really high seas into the mix, it’s extremely difficult.”