Container ship in danger in wild weather off Wattamolla

A major rescue operation is under way south of Sydney, with a container vessel being pushed by wild weather towards the cliffs near Wattamolla off the Royal National Park.

Rescue helicopters have been deployed to the site and tug boats are on the way in an attempt to bring the 169-metre container vessel Portland Bay under control.

The Portland Bay, a Hong Kong registered container ship seen in a file picture, is in danger of running aground off Wattamolla.Credit:Steven Watkins

The Hong Kong-registered ship, which is without power, is anchored one nautical mile offshore. It has a crew of 21.

An earlier attempt to evacuate some of the crew with helicopters was cancelled due to the risk.

A tugboat from Botany Bay is expected to arrive about 1pm. It will attempt to tow the ship further offshore so it can depart under its own power.

The bulk carrier departed Wollongong at 7.30am on Monday.

Wind speeds of up to 54km/h were recorded off Wattamolla at 10.30am on Monday, the Bureau of Meteorology said.

Waves of more than two metres have been reported at Wattamolla Beach. The beach is flanked by rugged cliffs.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the ship was in a “precarious” position.

“The NSW government is continuing to work with Commonwealth agencies to ensure that the situation is rectified as quickly as possible in ensuring that all … crew on board are lifted to safety as quickly as possible.”

More to come.

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