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MV Portland Bay cargo ship finally makes it to shore after three days stranded in waters off Sydney

This Article was published via By Adriane Reardon on Tue 5 Jul 2022 at 10:18pm updated Wed 6 Jul 2022 at 7:37am

The efforts of a rescue crew, tasked with towing a cargo ship which had been stranded off the coast of Sydney since Monday, have been described as "heroic".

After two failed rescue attempts, the vessel finally made it into Port Botany about 2pm on Wednesday, after a rescue operation using four tug boats began this morning.

Port Authority of NSW chief executive Philip Holliday said conditions eased just enough for the tow to go ahead.

"The winds dropped below 20 knots for the first time in over 80 hours, so the timing was perfect," Mr Holliday said.

"Hats off to the guys on the tugs who are now looking forward to a well-deserved rest."

The MV Portland Bay left Port Kembla on Sunday afternoon headed for Melbourne, but lost power on Monday in severe weather conditions.

It had drifted half a nautical mile towards the cliffs in the Royal National Park, south of Sydney.

A plan to airlift the crew from the vessel was abandoned at the time due to dangerous conditions.

All 21 crew members on board the ship are safe.(ABC News: Adriane Reardon)

Tug boats were instead used to tow the boat into deeper waters, but the stormy conditions caused the cable to snap.

The ship was then anchored 1.2 nautical miles from Botany Bay, off the coast of Cronulla as they waited for conditions to ease.

The NSW Port Authority has confirmed all 21 crew members aboard the are safe, after enduring two stormy nights at sea.

Mr Holliday said the challenge of the overall operation was not lost on those involved.

"Relief is a really good word," Mr Holliday said.

"There were a couple of point along this where we could have been looking at a very different situation.

"I think there's some heroes out there and they deserve a good pat on the back."

That sentiment was mirrored by Marine Pilot Lindsay Cavanagh, who was responsible for bringing the ship into port.

"It was very tough and challenging to get on board this morning dealing with quite significant swells," he said.

"The guys on the tugs that have been out there for three days probably had no sleep."

The ship's engine is now expected undergo repairs which will take several days with the 21 crew members remaining on board.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has commenced a transport safety investigation into the loss of engine power of the bulk carrier Portland Bay.

The Australia Maritime Safety Authority will also send two inspectors and a specialist lead investigator on board to "assess the vessel's mechanical safety and compliance with international conventions and Australian law.

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