MV Lake Illawarra

The MV "Lake Illawarra" was a Handysize bulk carrier of 7,274 tons in the service of the shipping company Australian National Lines, which famously and dramatically collided with pylon 19 of Hobart's giant high concrete arch style Tasman Bridge on the evening of 5 January, 1975 at 9.27pm.cite web |url=http://www.abs.gov.au/Ausstats/abs@.nsf/0/7a88395760718555ca256c32002417ba?OpenDocument |title=Feature Article - The Tasman bridge |work=1301.6 - Tasmanian Year Book, 2000 |publisher=Australian Bureau of Statistics |date=13 September 2002 |accessdate=2007-04-04] cite web|url=http://www.ccc.tas.gov.au/site/page.cfm?u=424|title=Tasman Bridge disaster|publisher=Clarence City Council|accessdate=20 August|accessyear=2007]

The "Lake Illawarra" was an ore carrier, and at the time of its collision was loaded with zinc concentrate, her destination being the Elecrolytic Zinc Company works at Risdon, later to become Pasminco and now Zinifex Zinc refinery, located a couple of kilometres up the Derwent River from the bridge.

Just before the impact, Captain Boleslaw Pelc realised as he passed Rosny Point that he was off course, and travelling too fast. He tried to adjust the course, but only managed to bring the bows too far to the port (left) and facing the western shore. He urgently counter-corrected, but could not make the opening. Realising he was headed for a collision, he threw her into a full reverse, but the torque from her propeller caused the ship to slide in a broadside movement. She smashed into the 18th and 19th pylons.

The collision brought down the two support pylons and a 127 metre (417 ft) section of steel and concrete. There was evening traffic on the bridge, and although no vehicles were on the section that fell, four cars drove off the gap, with five people killed. Two cars stopped on the edge; their occupants able to escape. The section of four-lane highway landed on the ship's deck, sinking her in Convert|35|m|ft|0 of water to the south of the bridge, and resulting in another seven deaths. "Illawarra" and the debris pile was deemed unsafe to move; the ship's oil was pumped out, and the bow was removed at a later date. The wreck is deep enough to avoid being a navigational hazard, [cite web |url=http://ink.news.com.au/mercury/mathguys/articles/1995/951208a1.htm |title=SAFE For another 70 years |author=Steven Dally |publisher=The Mercury |date=8 December 1995 |accessdate=2007-04-04] although movement caused by tides is considered enough of a threat to the bridge to be monitored closely with electronic sensors.Fact|date=August 2007|abbr=on

The "Illawarra" was capable of passing underneath the bridge's central navigation span, but the captain instead attempted to pass through one of the eastern spans, due to a combination of strong tidal currents and inattention.cite web|url=http://oceans1.customer.netspace.net.au/tas-wrecks.html|title=Shipwrecks of Tasmania|accessdate=20 August|accessyear=2007] cite web |url=http://www.ema.gov.au/ema/emadisasters.nsf/c85916e930b93d50ca256d050020cb1f/a2139c958151bd18ca256d33000583c3?OpenDocument|title=Hobart, Tas: Bridge Collapse |publisher=Attorney General's Department-Emergency Management Australia |accessdate=20 August |accessyear=2007]

The subsequent Court of Marine Inquiry found that Captain Pelc had not handled the "Lake Illawarra" in a proper and seamanlike manner, and suspended his master's certificate for six months. A pilot service was introduced in response to the Court's findings.

References

External links

* [http://www.parliament.tas.gov.au/history/brd1.htm Tasman Bridge Disaster page 1]


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