The Australian Border Force's patrol boat Roebuck Bay grounded at Henry Reef, north of Lockhart River, on September 30, 2017. Photo: Australian Border Force/Australian Transport Safety Bureau
The Australian Border Force's patrol boat Roebuck Bay grounded at Henry Reef, north of Lockhart River, on September 30, 2017. Photo: Australian Border Force/Australian Transport Safety Bureau

First glimpse of patrol boat’s Reef stranding

THE first photographs of an Australian Border Force patrol boat being grounded on the Great Barrier Reef have been released more than a year after the maritime mishap.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau yesterday ­published an interim factual report into the grounding of the ABFC Roebuck Bay at Henry Reef.

The incident, which occurred on September 30 last year, resulted in the multi-million-dollar vessel sustaining an estimated $3 million worth of damage to its keel, stabiliser fins and propellers.

ATSB investigators have described some of the scenes that ensued among the patrol boat's 11 crew members, after the Lizard Island-bound cutter struck the remote reef, just after midnight.

They reported that the vessel was about 15m to port of its planned route when the bridge team felt a bump and a shuddering sensation through the boat's hull.

"Almost immediately after, ABFC Roebuck Bay abruptly grounded and came to a complete stop," they wrote.

"The OOW (Officer of the Watch) and lookout were thrown out of their seats on to the display screens in front of them.

"The master, woken by the impact of the grounding, went to the bridge and activated the general emergency alarm.

"The cutter's crew mustered, accounted for all personnel and immediately began implementing damage control measures.

"Initial damage reports indicated that there was water ingress to the storage void space and the tank compartment immediately after of it, while other spaces and compartments appeared to be intact."

Photos published in the report, taken by an ABF aircraft, show the boat sitting aloft the reef, while it waited to be refloated and towed to Cairns for repairs.

Investigators said officers from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority found the maximum extent of ­physical reef damage occurred within an area of about 990sq m on the northwestern side of the reef.

The boat's 184kg anchor and 150m of anchor chain, left on the reef after the incident, were removed two months later.

"There was no reported oil pollution as a result of the incident," the investigators said.

A final report into the grounding, which will detail the exact cause, is not expected to be completed until early next year.

 

REPORT A LONG TIME COMING

COMMENT

DANIEL BATEMAN

Looking at the first photo released of the ABFC Roebuck Bay grounded at Henry Reef, north of Lockhart River, it's not hard to see why the Australian Border Force has not been very forthcoming about this maritime mishap. The embarrassing incident may have occurred more than a year ago, but getting information from the department has been challenging, to say the least.



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