Two tugs have been damaged during a rescue operation involving an NYK-operated car carrier that had lost steering in an Australian storm.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said the 5,340-ceu Kariyushi Leader (built 2008) had reported a problem last Wednesday as it was sailing off the coast of Australia.

Weather conditions deteriorated and on Friday the two tugs were sent to aid the Japan-flagged vessel.

By Friday night, the 180-metre ship was 100km off Phillip Island.

A spokesperson for AMSA told The Age that the situation was stable at that point and the vessel was able to move away from the coast under its own power.

“Over the course of today, both emergency towage vessels have sustained damage,” the spokesperson said. “This has resulted in both tugs returning to shore. AMSA’s highest priority is keeping the ship and its crew safe and minimising risks to the coastline.”

AMSA said the vessel was using its bow thrusters to steer.

AIS data showed the Japanese unit was underway again on Monday.

The car carrier had been en route from Laem Chabang in Thailand to Melbourne, with a crew of 23.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology had issued a severe weather warning for high winds in the region on Friday night.

The car carrier has insurance cover through Gard in Norway.

The Kariyushi Leader, which has had no port-state-control detentions since 2018, is owned by Tohmei Shipping of Japan and chartered by NYK over 13 years.

NYK has been contacted for further information.