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According to the ATSB investigation, the 'knockdown' of the sail training vessel Windeward Bound, in Bass Strait, was the result of inadequate preparations by the ships crew and the use of excessive rudder movements at the time that a forecast severe cold front passed over the vessel.

On 3 June 2004, Windeward Bound was off the Victorian coast, heading northeast at about six knots. The wind was from the northwest and the vessel was heeled between 10 and 15 degrees to starboard. The upper and lower topsails, the main and fore staysails were set. While a cold front was expected, the ship's master was unaware of the impending gale force winds repeatedly forecast.

At 1726 the helmsman was instructed to run the vessel downwind and shortly thereafter the vessel yawed to port and the helmsman put the rudder hard over to starboard. The watch leader then took the helm and, as the vessel was now swinging to starboard, applied a 'considerable amount' of port rudder. When the vessel had started to swing to port, the rudder was put hard over to starboard to arrest the swing. A gust of near-hurricane force wind then heeled the vessel about 68 degrees to starboard. The vessel was righted after several minutes using the main engine and the rudder and by letting the sheets go.

There was a minor injury to a crew member during the incident and the main engine had been damaged after being run with little or no lubricating oil pressure while the vessel was heeled.
During the next twenty four hours contact was lost with authorities ashore because of a failure of the ship's generator. An air search was initiated on the afternoon of 4 June and Windeward Bound was found safe and heading for Jervis Bay where it arrived late in the evening of 5 June.

The ATSB investigation found that the ship was not adequately prepared for the passage of the front and that the use of excessive rudder movements caused the vessel to slow sufficiently to broach and then be knocked down.

Significant safety action has already taken place and the ATSB has issued three safety recommendations and one safety advisory notice with the aim of preventing similar incidents.

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