Alert for cargo lost at sea
MASSIVE seas and howling gales have played havoc with a giant cargo ship off the Far North Coast.
The horrendous conditions on Monday caused the MV Mima Saka to list dramatically after her cargo shifted between Coffs Harbour and Ballina and forced her Indonesian skipper to make a mayday call.
Tonnes of timber were lost overboard from the Singapore-bound vessel and rescue crews up and down the coast, including the Lismore-based Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter, were placed on red alert to evacuate the crew if necessary.
Boaters are asked to watch out for any of the lost cargo, which may wash up on Northern Rivers beaches over the next few days.
Sgt Don Stewart, from Coffs Harbour Water Police, said the emergency unfolded about 10am when the 127-metre vessel was battling five-metre seas and 40 knot winds about 20 nautical miles east of the Sandon River.
He said the timber veneer aboard shifted and the mayday was picked up by Coffs Harbour Marine Rescue, which in turn notified the Water Police.
Officers alerted the rescue co-ordination centre at the Canberra-based Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which took control of the operation.
“Australian Maritime put all emergency services on standby. The ship had developed a 45-degree list,” Sgt Stewart said.
“The ship had already lost 600 slings of timber over the side.
“The skipper was able to turn the ship into the sea and re-adjust what cargo he had left. He was able to stabilise the vessel and he kept running north.”
Late on Monday, the vessel was anchored about 12 nautical miles off Yamba.