Back on the 17th August, Perth experienced some wild storms that resulted in three vessels coming loose at Fremantle Port. One of those vessels, the AAL Fremantle, struck the Fremantle Bridge, severely disrupting one of Perth’s major train lines.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has issued a report on the incident named the Breakaway of Grand Pioneer and AAL Fremantle Port of Fremantle, Western Australia 17 August 2014 – MO-2014-009_PRELIM.
It was around 2200hrs on the 17th August when unprecedented event occurred.
The AAL Fremantle, a general cargo ship (break bulk carrier), was berthed at Berth 12, with it’s starboard anchor lowered to the seabed as a precaution to the strong wind warnings that were issued.
A car carrier, the Grand Pioneer, was alongside at Berth 11, and was actively discharging vehicles at the time of the storm striking.
The above map shows the vessels berthing positions along with their movement during the storm.
The weather forecast was for scattered thunderstorms in the late evening, possibly severe with damaging winds. At 1900hrs, the wind was a steady 28 to 33 knots from the north, which was consistent with the prediction.
It wasn’t until around 2200hrs that a thunderstorm passed over Fremantle, resulting in the winds increasing to 55 knots.
It was at this point that the master of the AAL Fremantle noticed that the three stern lines were no longer visible. The vessel swung around and struck the bridge, damaging the train lines.
The above showing the mooring lines of both vessels.
The Grand Pioneer also experienced their stern lines coming free, with the vessel swinging wildly.
It took tugs several hours to regain vessels positions at the wharf.
The ATSB’s report is detailed and takes you through step by step the events of this troubled night.
The investigation is on going, and will focus on the following:
The investigation will now focus on:
- the bollard’s failure mechanism;
- preparedness of the ships leading up to the incident;
- port authority procedures to avoid weather-related incidents;
- effect of weather on water levels in the port and the movement of ships;
- risk analysis and management of relevant marine and rail infrastructure; and
- risk management and emergency response between agencies.
Image / Source credit: ATSB and Facebook