One of the most hazardous stretches of water in the world is the Torres Strait between the northern tip of Queensland, Australia and Papua-New Guinea.
GV Liner at sea in rough water near Thursday Island
CU Shot through windscreen of boat going through rough sea (2 shots)
GV The Arno Temasek, container ship, at sea with pilot boat nearby (2 shots)
CU Captain walking into bridge
GV ZOOM OUT FROM Barrier Reef PAN OVER ship TO islands
SV Captain Gus Eastwood, pilot, plotting course with captain of ship (2 shots)
TV PAN FROM Bow of ship TO rocks in background
GV Small boat passing
CU Pilot shouting instructions
SV Man on rigging as ship passes near rocks (2 shots)
CU Pilot looking through binoculars as tanker passes
CU Pilot being interviewed with underwater shots of reef (6 shots)
REPORTER: "Near Thursday Island off the northern tip of Australia the ships wait for the "eyes" which will guide them safely through the coral reefs and hidden shoals of ??? Torres Strait and the Great Barr??? Reef. The Arno Temasek is a new container ship built at a cost of 28-million Dollars for the Nept??? Orient Line. The rendezvous with??? pilot near Thursday Island repr??? a transfer of responsibility for ship's safety in he tr???ochorou??? waters ahead. The captain is not apprehensive. His ship is surrou??? by reefs and shoals. But on this trip he will be piloted by Capta??? Gus Eastwood from Bowral, in sout??? New South Wales. Captain Eastw??? has made more than three-hundred through the reef. In Captain Eastwood's hands rests the fate of ??? ship, its valuable cargo and the ??? of 39 men, women and children, danger that is always present is ??? chance meeting with a small unpi??? ship in narrow channels, parti??? at night or in bad weather. The pilots take control of ships of ??? nations with different navigation ??? equipment, handling qualities and widely varying range of compet??? among the ships' officers. They ??? used to being confronted with ??? navigational equipment and faulty ... maps, or even no maps at all. The mapped channels through the reefs are so narrow in places that big ships have to pass sometimes within a few hundred metres of each other."
REPORTER: "How deep is the water under the ship sometimes when you come through?"
EASTWOOD: "Well, the shallowest parts are across the...(indistinct) passage, that is the entrance, the northern entrance to the reef, and through the Prince of Wales channel. In a deep-laden ship we require one-metre clearance, which means that if a deep-laden ship is coming through it has only got one metre water underneath it."
REPORTER: "It does not give you much margin for error, does it?"
EASTWOOD: "Well, no, very little."
REPORTER: "If you are going across there with only three feet of water under the ship, that must be fairly hairy?"
EASTWOOD: "Well, you slow the ship down so that it does not squat in the water and reduce your clearance, you know."
REPORTER: "You are navigating with the aid of radar. How must it have been for the old sea captains in sailing ships?"
EASTWOOD: "A bit hair-raising, I think. They have my utmost admiration, believe me."
Torres Strait was discovered in 1606 by the Spanish explorer Luis Baez de Torres. And Captain James Cook, of Britain, confirmed the existence of the passage in 1770. Shipping lines use these waters because they are generally calmer and cut the distance between Australia and Asian ports by two days.
REPORTER: JOHN MCGREGOR
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: One of the most hazardous stretches of water in the world is the Torres Strait between the northern tip of Queensland, Australia and Papua-New Guinea. Each day, members of the Torres Strait Pilot Ser??? provide the "eyes" for ships from all nations visiting the area. For the pilots the most dangerous part is getting on board ships in mountainous seas. A rope ladder dangles from the ship. The pilot has to leap for ??? ladder while his launch is on top of wave, and then scamper up before another wave smashes the launch against the side of the ship. John McGregor of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, reports on the pilot service, believed to be the longest of its kind in the world.