NYK Car Carrier Loses Steering Caught in Storm off Australia

NYK car carrier
One of NYK's car carriers is experiencing steering problems off Australia (file photo)

Published Sep 8, 2023 10:47 AM by The Maritime Executive

A NYK car carrier is experiencing steering problems while caught in a storm south of Melbourne, Australia with the safety authority directing the ship to head further out to sea. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) told local reporters that there was no immediate danger and they were working to minimize danger to the coastline as well as the vessel and its crew.

Two tugboats that had gone to assist the vessel during the day on Friday, September 8, were both reportedly damaged in the high sea conditions. The tugs had to abandon their efforts and were returning to port.

The car carrier, the Kariyushi Leader, was built in 2008 and is registered in Japan. The vessel, which is 590 feet in length, is 17,212 dwt with a crew of 23 aboard. It had departed Lam Chabang, Thailand on August 22 and was due to arrive earlier this week in Melbourne. It is reported to have a capacity of approximately 5,000 vehicles.

The vessel began experiencing steering problems on Wednesday, September 6, while it was approaching Melbourne and has been held offshore while the crew was attempting to resolve the problem. AMSA is reporting that the ship is using its bow thrusters to steer. 

According to its AIS signal, the vessel is currently “not under command,” at a position approximately 60 miles south of Phillip Island in the Bass Strait south of Melbourne. It is shown to be moving at approximately 4 knots.

Heavy weather is complicating the situation with Australia experiencing unusually strong winds according to the Bureau of Meteorology. Winds in the area have been clocked with gusts of up to 69 mph (60 knots) with numerous reports of local damage ranging from fallen trees to buildings reporting damage. In addition to rough surf, the weather service was reporting the winds at 50 knots (55 mph) offshore although they were expected to ease later on Friday and into Saturday.