A delicate rescue operation off the New South Wales coast will continue today in the face of ongoing hostile weather.
The bulk carrier ship Portland Bay lost power early yesterday morning and began drifting towards the coast of the Royal National Park, south of Sydney.
The 21-person crew managed to drop two anchors, but the force of the ocean swell combined with heavy winds to push the vessel closer to the rocks.
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Even without power, the port authority managed to move the ship about 20 nautical miles offshore and out of immediate danger.
However, an initial plan to lift non-essential crew off the ship had to be abandoned after the ship became stabilised.
Port Authority of NSW chief executive Captain Philip Holliday said the attempt to tow the vessel into deeper water stalled because tow lines broke in the extreme conditions.
He said the crew aboard the ship had been unable to make repairs the ship needed, and wanted to make the repairs while berthed at Port Botany when the weather allowed it.
However, he said weather forecasts were expected to delay the ship coming to shore before Wednesday at the earliest.
Captain Holliday has reassured "the situation is under control" despite the extremely challenging conditions.
"This is not what we were planning to do with our last 24 hours. But the situation is under control," he told Today.
"But both the crew on board the ship and the crews on board the tug boats have done an outstanding job.
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"There is still a little way to go. But we're in a good position at the moment. And we will see this through to the end.""
The ship is maintaining its position and the crew are safe, their safety and the safety of our frontline responders remains the highest priority."
An additional tug with heavy duty emergency equipment is travelling from Newcastle and is expected to arrive at Port Botany today to help move the vessel.
Swells are set to reach 5.5 metres today, while winds in excess of 95km/hr have been registered.
That will combine with ongoing heavy rain to obstruct all rescue efforts.
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