Due to the nature of the call and the possible impact on the environment Gippsland Ports were put on standby for deployment of oil spill booms if required said Lieutenant White of the Lakes Entrance Fire Brigade.
The Lakes Entrance Fire Brigade and Coast Guard (CG18) were alerted and responded crews which spent the next 4 hours pumping out and stabilising the water levels inside the vessel, whilst monitoring for potential oil and fuel contamination into the waterways.
On arrival the vessel was listing to port indicating the side where water should be at its deepest. We had to gain safe and easy access to the engine room. This was done using the port side engine hatch.
The deck area is the best place to work from as this allows the greatest flexibility once equipment is set up, to minimising the need to redeploy pumps and hoses.
Before any pumps were running, consideration of carbon dioxide build was thought through, to minimise any effects on crews or the overall job.
A large volume of water completely covered the main engines approximately 200,000 litres, a small quantity of oil was floating on top of the water.
The Lakes Entrance Coast Guard and Gippsland Ports worked together to deploy absorbent booms to form a bunded area and absorb any contaminants that may find their way into the surrounding environment.
The brigade’s intent was “to protect property” and “minimise environmental exposures” said Lieutenant White. Once the water was below the main engine shafts and the vessels own pumps could keep up with the flow and maintain the level of water the brigade would be released.
As the water level receded in the engine room further assessment could be conducted, and determine where the water was coming from either inside from the ballast tanks or from outside. “This is not always as easy as it sounds” said Lieutenant White
The ship owners mechanic confirmed the water in the engine room was sea water, divers geared up to do an inspection of the hull from the outside with a view to use a timber plate from the outside to slow the water to a manageable rate.
Due to the visibility in the water, temperature of the water and no definitive location of a leak or hole, where a light could be switched on to assist in the location of a hole from the outside. The Coast Guard divers were not put into the water.
After four hours of constant pumping and the redeploying of the suction hoses three times. The water was at last at a level, that with the assistance of Gippsland Ports staff and equipment the crew of the Ocean Dynasty could maintain the lower level of water and CFA Fire Brigade and Coast Guard crews were released.