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Failing to keep a proper lookout and poor radar detectability were the major contributing factors to a collision between a bulk carrier and a private yacht, according to an Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigation report released today.

The ATSB report into the incident states that, at about 0440 on Tuesday, 19 February 2005, a collision occurred between the bulk carrier, Goa and the sailing vessel, Marie Chocolat. Goa was approaching the anchorages offshore from the port of Newcastle, NSW while Marie Chocolat was on a recreational trip down the NSW coast.

The bulk carrier did not detect the yacht due to the weather conditions at the time and although the yacht saw the ship, its skipper did not realise that the ship was on a collision course until too late. No one was injured in the collision and there was no pollution.

Marie Chocolat sustained damage to its hull, mast, rigging and deck in the collision and sailed into Newcastle for assessment and repair. The bulk carrier sustained only slight scratching to the paintwork on the ship's side and continued to its designated anchorage. The report, like many ATSB collision investigations in the past, identifies the failure to keep a proper lookout as the most significant contributing factor. The poor radar detectability of small craft was also a factor.

The report recommends that small boat owners consider fitting radar reflectors to aid in the detection of their vessels by ship's radars. Copies of the report can be downloaded from the ATSB's internet site.

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Last update 01 April 2011