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The ATSB has found that neither the harbour pilot nor the ship's crew adequately considered the ships speed or its movement in the prevailing conditions and this led to the Indian oil tanker Desh Rakshak grounding near Point Lonsdale.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation found that the depth of water below the ship's keel was less than the bridge team had anticipated; and the Port Phillip Sea Pilots procedures did not give effective guidance to the pilot when deciding whether, or not, to pilot the ship from sea to the Melbourne outer anchorage in the prevailing conditions. It was also found that the inadequate application of bridge resource management led to the ship's bridge team having little effective input during the pilotage passage.

Desh Rakshak arrived off Port Phillip on the morning of 4 January 2006, with about 80 000 tonnes of crude oil cargo on board, and at 0800 a pilot boarded the ship for the transit from sea to the Melbourne outer anchorage.

The pilot planned to enter the port to the west of the track marked by the main leading lights, to keep the ship out of an opposing tidal flow for as long as possible. When the ship was almost abeam of Point Lonsdale Lighthouse, the pilot thought he could see the high and low main leading lights just open to the west. This indicated to him that the ship was on the edge of the Great Ship Channel. However, the ship was further to the west than the pilot thought.

The ship continued the transit and anchored at 1154. No one on board the ship observed anything that might have suggested that the ship had grounded at about 0825, when it was abeam of Point Lonsdale.

At about 1245, the ship's crew discovered that the level in the lower fore peak water ballast tank was rising. An inspection of the tank revealed that the ship's hull had been holed.

The ship berthed in Geelong on 5 January and temporary repairs were carried out before it sailed for Singapore on 19 January, where it was dry-docked for permanent repairs.

The ATSB is pleased to report safety action already taken and has made several safety recommendations with the aim of preventing similar events.

Copies of the report can be downloaded from the ATSB's internet site at www.atsb.gov.au

Media contact: 1800 020 616
 
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Last update 01 April 2011