When long-range weather forecasts showed that a super-storm was heading for South Australia, Flinders Ports activated its safety management plan for adverse weather. The storm posed a major hazard to people and assets, so Flinders Ports took the unprecedented step of closing all seven of its ports for 48-hours, when the storm battered the state at the end of September.
It was the first time in our 15-year history that we had to close for this period of time.
As the storm approached, staff at Flinders Ports worked against the clock. Four ships would have been at risk had they remained in port, so these were guided out to secure anchorages at sea by Flinders Ports’ pilots. For ships that could stay in port, operations staff added extra mooring lines to safeguard these vessels. All plant and equipment that could create a hazard in high winds was carefully secured. At the container terminal, where containers are stacked three high, operations teams moved containers to additional storage areas to reduce stack heights to a maximum of two high.
It was vital that our employees and stakeholders were not placed at avoidable risk. We knew that storm force conditions would be dangerous. Wave heights of 10 metres and wind gusts of 90 kilometres per hour had been predicted and without the correct safety measures, ships could have run aground, or detached from their moorings.
Flinders Ports also urged recreational port users, such as kayakers and fishing enthusiasts, to stay safe and avoid coastal waters until the storm subsided. At our regional port of Wallaroo, we closed public access to the jetty.
We managed to roll out all safety measures under the safety management plan and close our ports before the state-wide power outage brought South Australia to a standstill.
This planning and preparation ahead of the storm front paid off.
No-one was injured and there was no major damage to our assets or equipment at any of our ports. Being prepared and making safety the top priority was the key to a positive outcome.