THE Tug ship Kullaro in the marina.
THE Tug ship Kullaro in the marina. Matt Harris

Tug boats collision probe launched after $500K damage

A TUG boat crash that caused $500,000 worth of damage is being investigated by the nation's peak maritime safety body.

Maritime Safety Queensland and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority have launched an investigation after two tugs collided in the Gladstone Harbour.

The collision of the two Smit Lamnalco tugs on June 9 caused minor injuries to two men and $500,000 worth of damage to the boats involved.

While towing an LNG carrier a "mechanical failure" caused the two tugs to collide, initial investigations show.

Two men on board one of the tugs, believed to be the Kullaroo, were taken to hospital with minor injuries.

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"Two crew who received minor injuries attended hospital as a precaution and were later released," a Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said.

While the cause of the accident is still being investigated, the spokesperson said it's believed a "mechanical failure" contributed.

In an email obtained by The Observer from Smit Lamnalco to employees, the company described it as a "serious incident".

It's believed MSQ and AMSA have since performed full inspections of the tug boat vessels in Gladstone.


Tug ship Kullaroo pictured on June 13.
DAMGED: The tug ship Kullaroo after the collision. Matt Harris

In the email, Smit Lamnalco asked employees to present their vessels to MSQ and AMSA in a "professional manner".

A Smit Lamnalco spokesman said the collision was caused by a mechanical failure that resulted in "a fracture to a cooling water pipe".

"The starboard main engine was shut down by the automatic high temperature protection system due to the loss of cooling water from the fractured pipe," he said.

He said the crash caused $500,000 of damage.

"The tug suffered indentation to the hull plating on the port side and a number of bent frames behind the damaged hull plating," the spokesman said.

"The tug's captain, now operating on one engine, was unable to avoid collision with one of the other tugs assisting the ship."

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The two crew members were on the tug's stairway during the collision.

"Changes have been made to the inspection and maintenance procedures for these couplings and a protective guard is being installed around each coupling," the spokesperson said.

"Smit Lamnalco management and staff are working hard to establish and implement preventive actions in order to avoid a recurrence of this incident."

A Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said further action will depend on investigation findings.

with Matt Harris