SHIPPING at the Port of Brisbane is at a standstill as severe flooding hampers navigation.

Days of intense rainfall across the region had washed debris into the Brisbane River, causing the regional harbour master to suspend the movement of vessels at the port.

In an operational update, Port of Brisbane chief financial officer Neil Stephens confirmed the port remains closed to all ship movements as of Tuesday afternoon.

He said the measure was put in place due to inherent risks from water velocity and the potential for debris including sunken objects and siltation build-up in swing basins, berth pockets, and channel.

“Port of Brisbane Pty Ltd is working closely with the RHM to deploy survey vessels to determine safe depth of the navigational areas as well as possible debris obstruction,” Mr Stephens said in the update.

“The speed of the river current and turbidity at the moment is proving challenging in this regard.

“[Maritime Safety Queensland] and the state government is co-ordinating multiple salvage teams to remove any debris, and PBPL will deploy its dredge and barge fleet to assist focussing on the port precincts.”

Mr Stephens said the harbour master is assessing the situation on an ongoing, case-by-case basis with the aim of reopening the port as soon as it is safe to do so.

“I can also advise that PBPL’s infrastructure teams, along with our contractors, continue to work on minor civil works; however there are no landside limitations within port precincts and all road and rail access remains operational.

“We continue to work closely with MSQ and the RHM on all matters relating to this emergency response.”

A Queensland Transport and Main Roads spokesperson told DCN river conditions had deteriorated rapidly on Sunday and water flows into the Brisbane River increased exceptionally.

“The actual water flow conditions considerably exceeded the forecast conditions,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson confirmed the high water flows had caused oil tanker MT CSC Friendship to break away from the Ampol Products wharf on the Brisbane River at Lytton early on Monday morning.

“It is the responsibility of individual companies to ensure commercial vessels are safely berthed and secured,” they said.

“The vessel was refloated successfully in an operation overseen by the MSQ regional harbour master with the assistance of a marine pilot and tugs.

“The vessel was taken to an anchorage in Moreton Bay under its own steam and anchored without incident.”

The spokesperson said there were no injuries or pollution, and the matter is being investigated by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

On Monday night, Maritime Safety Queensland announced it had closed the Brisbane River to all ships and watercraft to safeguard lives and infrastructure.

“The Brisbane River is in flood and simply not a safe place to be at the moment,” MSQ general manager Kell Dillon said in a statement.

“A vast amount of water is coming downstream from the upper reaches and carrying all manner of debris, from logs and branches to dislodged infrastructure like pontoons.

“Added to that we have swift flows and swirling currents combining with tides to make navigation dangerous and potentially deadly.

“Displaced navigation aids are also adding to the navigational difficulty.”

Mr Dillon said tides and currents at the port were too dangerous for even large ships to navigate in.

“MSQ, Queensland Water Police and State Emergency Services vessels, who are trying to clear the dangers in the river and conduct rescue operations, are the only ones who should be on the river,” Mr Dillon said.

“Their vessels are exempt. All others should stay off the river and that includes anyone who might be thinking of going out there to check on moored vessels.”

On land, Container Transport Alliance Australia director Neil Chambers told DCN Brisbane container transport operators are doing their best to continue normal operations between their yards and the Port of Brisbane container terminals and empty container parks.

“Some labour shortages continue to exist with drivers and some staff unable to attend work due to the floods,” he said.

According to Mr Chambers, Patrick and Hutchison have reported backlogs of trucks and longer truck turnaround times at the Port of Brisbane.

DP World and Hutchison have also reported some difficulties with automatic stacking cranes, however it is unknown whether the challenges are related to weather.