10:15am AEST 22 May 2012
The incident involving the ID Integrity took place 175 nm off the Queensland coast, in the Coral Sea, approximately 65 nm east of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park boundary.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) responded immediately by tasking appropriate assets to attend the scene, including the deployment of AMSA’s designated Emergency Towage Vessel (ETV) Pacific Responder from its routine training duties in the Torres Strait.
While awaiting the arrival of assistance, AMSA and the owners of the vessel were in constant communication, as has been the case for the entire incident. The owners were proactive in minimising the risk of a potential grounding by releasing ballast water to allow for a safe distance between the vessel and Shark Reef. They also contracted in the nearest tugs to respond to the drifting ship.
Once the tugs arrived on scene, the ID Integrity was secured and the drifting ship stabilised by bringing the ship head to wind and stopping any further drift towards reefs. With the arrival of the larger Pacific Responder the tow was taken over and the vessel started the towing passage to the repair port of Townsville.
As at 22 May, the intention is to tow the vessel to the Port of Cairns for repairs.
The successful outcome from this emergency response was the result of proactive and cooperative management between AMSA and the owners of ID Integrity. The existing emergency response measures AMSA has in place were effective in managing the risk of a potential grounding and the owners reacted in an appropriate and timely manner. These contingencies are detailed in the National Maritime Emergency Response Arrangements (NMERA).
The ID Integrity suffered an engine failure while transiting the Coral Sea, which could not have been prevented if a pilot had been on board.
AMSA has anticipated the predicted increase in shipping in the Reef and has already established the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait regions as some of the best-protected waters in the world.
Such protection measures include: the Reef Vessel Traffic Service, which aims to prevent collisions and groundings; the Under Keel Clearance Management System to allow ships safe transiting through the Torres Strait; the highest concentration of Aids to Navigation facilities in Australia; and compulsory coastal pilotage in designated areas.
The existing shipping routes have been designed as an additional protection measure that minimise risk of incidents.