THE LPG tanker Bougainville, which lost its propeller in Bass Strait in early February, is making its slow way to Singapore for repairs, initially behind a Brisbane-based tug before a deepsea tower takes over at Gladstone.

The vessel, which had been anchored in sheltered waters in Western Port Bay since being rescued by emergency towage vessels Svitzer Lynx from Hastings and Svitzer Albatross from Geelong, was towed out by Pacific Tug’s P T Fortitude on 29 February.

Tug and tow sheltered in Twofold Bay, Eden on the NSW south coast on 4 March before departing around 0600 Wednesday morning (6 March), with the entry and exit assisted by one of Pacific Tugs’ Eden-based tugs, Wambiri.

Yesterday afternoon (10 March) tug and tow were off Coffs Harbour on the NSW coast, en route to Gladstone where P T Fortitude will hand Bougainville over to the Chinese deepsea tug Ning Hai Tuo 6002. The latter had earlier (2 February) delivered Metro Mining’s offshore transhipper Ikamba from Shekou to Darwin for regulatory clearance, before taking it on to Weipa (22 February).

Bougainville’s propeller sheared off during pre-arrival engine testing while approaching the port of Hastings in Western Port, according to AMSA, and the cause of the loss was unknown. The ship remained at the Cowes anchorage with local tug support available at one hour’s notice if needed, awaiting P T Fortitude’s arrival .

“AMSA is satisfied the ship is safe in its current location. AMSA and the Regional Harbour Master will continue to monitor local weather forecasts and can require tug attendance at the vessel should environmental conditions indicate it is warranted,” a spokesperson said at the time. 

The Panama-flag, 5000 cu m capacity Bougainville is one of several LPG carriers Franco/Swiss-owned Geogas Group uses to distribute gas throughout East Coast Australia, PNG, NZ and the Pacific Islands and operated through Sydney-based Oceangas services.