QUICK thinking by Warren Bath helped ensure a safe outcome to an incident at the Port of Hay Point in the early hours of 21 April last year.

Hay Point is a large coal terminal near Mackay in Central Queensland, a place where Mr Bath works as a Vessel Traffic Services operator.

Mr Bath was nominated for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s inaugural VTS award after coordinating the response action of tugs, port pilots and helicopter operators when reports came through of a bulker drifting 20 metres off the southern-most berth at Hay Point at 1am.

Within ten minutes of receiving the call, the ship had reportedly turned 90 degrees to the berth and was in danger of being damaged and causing damage to its surroundings.

Mr Bath’s quick response ensured the vessel was brought back alongside within three-and-a-half hours with no damage to the bulker, other ships berthed at the port, the offshore terminal infrastructure or the environment.

Deputy PM and infrastructure minister Michael McCormack congratulated Warren Bath on his award and noted all nominee went “above and beyond” to ensure their waterways remained safe.

“Vessel Traffic Services are a key part in keeping Australia’s maritime industry moving and keeping vessels safe on the water,” Mr McCormack said.

“Each nominee kept their cool under pressure, combining quick thinking with swift action to save lives. Our waterways are safer places thanks to each nominee.”

Port Hedland VTS were commended for the successful response to a call from the bulker Cape Reliance reporting people clinging to a drifting upturned boat about 10 miles from land.

The strong currents were said to be rapidly pushing the capsized boat and the desperate men further out to sea.

The VTS coordinated police and marine rescue crews, including a pilot boat and marine pilot transfer helicopter from the port, to assist with the search and rescue.

Four people were rescued within two hours of the initial report, after spending nearly seven hours in the water.

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Todd Stewart and Ricky Blake from Brisbane VTS received commendations for coordinating local vessels to help in the search for a sinking recreational craft about nine miles off Caloundra Headland in the middle of the night on 9 June 2019.

They called on ships anchored in the vicinity to help widen the search area.

Incredibly, the master of a tanker in the area radioed VTS and reported seeing people in the water south of the ship in the morning light.

Mr Stewart and Mr Blake relayed this information to Queensland Water Police resulting in the rescue of two adults and a child.

The Australian VTS Award was launched in December 2019 to recognise an outstanding contribution by a VTS to the safety of life at sea, safety and efficiency of navigation and protection of the marine environment. Nominations for the 2020-21 Australian VTS Award open on 1 October 2020.

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