TasPorts starts court action against Goliath’s owner

TasPorts of Tasmania, Australia has begun legal action against the owners of cement carrier Goliath (IMO 9036430), which hit two stationary tugboats in the port of Devonport, north-west Tasmania in January. Both tugs sank (IMN, January 31st 2022).

The tugs were both declared a constructive total loss.

The Goliath suffered damage to its bulbous bow and some of its hull plating on the starboard side. By February 10th it had been repaired and returned to service.

TasPorts has started legal proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against Goliath’s owner, CSL Australia. TasPorts CEO Anthony Donald said the port authority would try to reach an acceptable settlement with the company in the short to medium term. He said that it was not TasPorts’ intention to progress the proceedings “unless and until it becomes necessary to do so”, but said that the commencement of proceedings was “a prudent step to take to protect our rights”.

CSL Australia said they had been transparent with authorities since the incident and had supported and cooperated the investigations conducted by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB). They said that they sincerely regretted that the incident occurred.

Earlier this month the ATSB released a preliminary report from its ongoing investigation into the crash involving the two TasPorts tugs, the York Cove and Campbell Cove. The investigation thus far has established that an incorrect steering setting was selected on the cement carrier, and the ship’s speed increased by more than three knots as it navigated a tight turn in the Mersey River (IMN, May 6th 2022).

Goliath was travelling from Melbourne on with 17 crew members on board when the master of the ship felt it was “not swinging as expected” as it manoeuvred a tight turn in the Mersey River.

The Master immediately tried to stop the ship from moving forward by changing the steering setting, while being informed of the “rapidly decreasing clearances” between the ship and the tugs. The tugs had a combined 69,000 litres of diesel fuel and other oil on board, although much of the oil and diesel was contained.

Mr Donald said that the salvage operation to remove the sunken tugs from the river, described as one of the most complex undertaken in Australia in recent years, was continuing. Specialist salvage divers were brought in to examine the wrecks. Barges from the Australian mainland were scheduled to arrive soon to help remove the wrecks. Both tugs were expected to be lifted from the river by a crane and transported to Bell Bay by the end of the month.

1993-built, Australia-flagged, 11,754 gt Goliath is owned and managed by CSL Australia Pty Ltd of Sydney, NSW, Australia. It is entered with Standard Club (International Division) on behalf of CSL Australia Pty Ltd.