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The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has issued a legal direction to the master of the cargo ship which became stranded off the coast of Sydney earlier this week, warning the ship must comply with the government and move to a berth in Botany Bay today.

Bad weather caused the bulk carrier to lose power while travelling north from Port Kembla on Monday morning. It has since been anchored off Port Botany near Cronulla in Sydney’s south after attempts to bring the ship to berth were thwarted by weather conditions.

In a statement from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority released on Wednesday morning, the federal government agency said that it had warned the Portland Bay ship’s captain that it must be moved into the harbour today now that the wild weather has subsided. The vessel has 21 people on board.

A large tugboat – the Glenrock – arrived from Newcastle at the ship’s current location yesterday and is said to have the capabilities to bring the ship to berth.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority executive director Mark Morrow said he expected the Portland Bay to be moved “as early as possible”.

“It is vital that the vessel be moved into safe harbour before the next front of bad weather arrives tomorrow,” he said.

“As always, we want to ensure that the crew are safe and the vessel can be made sea worthy while the next east coast low passes through the region. Those smaller tugs have done amazing work over the past 24-36 hours ensuring the stricken vessel did not drift onto some of Sydney’s most pristine coastline.”

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