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The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigation report released today deals with the collision between a ship, Asian Nova, and a fishing vessel, Sassenach, off Townsville on 29 May 2003 in which a local fisherman lost his life.

The fishing vessel's skipper lost his life as a result of the collision, his body was recovered from the sunken trawler on 5 June 2003. The boat's other crew member, the deckhand, was able to jump clear at impact and was rescued some five hours later by a searching fishing boat.

Poor watch handover practices and a poor lookout were identified as major contributing factors in the collision which occurred at about 0001 on 29 May 2003. The 225 m long, fully loaded, Panamanian bulk carrier fouled the trawl warps of the Australian registered fishing vessel and the prawn trawler was dragged against the hull of the bulk carrier, damaging its port quarter and causing it to capsize and sink.

The report concludes that the handover of watch on the bulk carrier should not have occurred until the ship had passed the fishing vessel and that neither of the officers on watch had followed internationally recommended practice or company requirements when changing watch. In addition, the oncoming officer of the watch did not adequately assess the navigational and traffic situation before altering course as he approached the fishing vessel.

On Sassenach the assessment that the ship would pass clear was made on scanty information.

The report makes recommendations about watch changeovers, lookouts, and about correct use of navigational recording devices.

Copies of the report ( Marine Safety Investigation Report 195) can be downloaded from the website, or obtained from the ATSB by telephoning (02) 6274 6425 or 1800 020 616.

Media contact: 1800 020 616
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Last update 01 April 2011