top of page

Harbour Master Port of Melbourne provides reassurances regarding West Gate Bridge

After the recent devastating collision in Baltimore that destroyed the Francis Scott Key Bridge, concerns naturally arose regarding the potential for ship-bridge accidents in other parts of the world.  In Tasmania, Australia, the Tasman Bridge in Hobart suffered a ship collision when the dry bulker Lake Illawarra struck it, leading to the bridge's collapse and the tragic loss of 12 lives.

Attention in Melbourne is now directed towards the risk faced by the West Gate Bridge, a crucial cable-stayed structure spanning the Yarra River near its entrance into Port Phillip Bay, supporting five traffic lanes in each direction. Harbour Master Warwick Laing shared a safety-focused update on LinkedIn to reassure the Australian public.

He highlighted the continuous risk assessment conducted by the local regulator, Ports Victoria, regarding commercial ship movements in port waters. Moreover, Laing emphasized the protective measures in place, such as a rockwall bund safeguarding the bridge pillar on the western bank of the Yarra against vessel impact.

Additionally, towing regulations in the Port of Melbourne were reinforced in May 2023, requiring harbour tugs for all SOLAS commercial vessels passing under the bridge on the river, ensuring immediate assistance in emergencies. Furthermore, Laing noted that all commercial vessels exceeding 35 meters must have a local marine pilot on board, enhancing safe navigation through confined waterways in collaboration with the vessel's bridge team and local Vessel Traffic Services. Reflecting on the tragedy of the Francis Scott Key Bridge incident, Laing expressed sympathy for those affected, including the seafarers, Maryland Pilots, and colleagues at the Maryland Port Authority.

Laing also acknowledged the profound impact on the Baltimore community and highlighted the importance of learning from such incidents to enhance safety within the maritime industry.


bottom of page