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According to a report issued today by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), a shift of a cargo of packaged timber resulted in the Panamanian flag general cargo vessel Sun Breeze experiencing a large list and sending out a 'Mayday' call off the West Australian port of Bunbury on 21 August 1999.

Sun Breeze had sailed from Bunbury at 1800 on 21 August with timber loaded underdeck as well as on the deck and hatchtops. The Master had just left the bridge when the vessel, on autopilot, turned to starboard on its own accord. It then appeared to list to port before taking a starboard list of about 25, losing a number of packs of timber from the hatchtops overboard. The Master anchored the vessel just north of the port and corrected the list by adjusting ballast.

The vessel re-entered the port the next day when it was found that the underdeck cargo had shifted. After cargo was restowed and secured, the vessel sailed for the discharge port in China where it arrived safely.

The ATSB report concluded that a number of factors had contributed to the incident, including partially filled tanks that had reduced the vessel's stability and cargo that had not been correctly secured.

The vessel's stability data was based on an inclining experiment, when Sun Breeze was built, that did not conform to standards of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The report notes that the ATSB took up this issue with the classification society.

The ATSB also queried other details of the stability data, which led to the classification society making the necessary amendments to the vessel's approved stability booklet.

Read the ATSB report 150.

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Last update 29 January 2014