Marine safety investigations & reports

Grounding of the Jhansi Ki Rani on Frederick Reef

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 254KB]

On 26 April 1986 at 1735 hours local time the Indian flag bulk carrier Jhansi Ki Rani of 42141 gross tonnes, on a passage from Newcastle, Australia to Higashie Harima, Japan, ran aground on Frederick Reef in position 21°01.5'S 154°22'E.

At the time of the investigation on 2 May 1986 there had been no injury to any person, the ship was still aground and a salvage team was onboard with a tug standing by. Preparations were underway to attempt to refloat the vessel.

A minor quantity of oil pollution was sighted after the grounding. This pollution was apparently the result of the forward oil fuel deep tank which held 1 tonne of fuel oil, being holed on grounding.

All other fuel tanks were situated aft and were intact at the time of the investigation. The danger of further pollution was negligible.


The grounding was causedd by an accumulation of factors:

  1. No definite position fixes were obtained since 1736 hours on 25/4/86.
  2. Both the Master and Chief Officer showed an unseamanlike complacency in their navigational duties when approaching a hazard of this nature in the prevailing weather conditions. While the light tower is normally a good radar target in good conditions, it should have been realised that rain clutter could obscure the echo return. Slowing or stopping the vessel would have been prudent under the circumstances. (a) Both officers were relying on picking up the light tower at 22 miles on the radar, as this was the distance that the light tower was picked up on the way south. No consideration was given to the fact that the rain showers and drizzle could affect radar propagation, or that the tower was located on the northern tip of the reef. (b) Both expected to see the light at a specified time. Even when the Chief Officer picked up a target on radar on the starboard bow he assumed it was a ship, because the light was not expected until later. (c) Even though the visibility was down to 2-3 kms. (1-1.6 miles) the Chief Officer did not call the Master.
  3. The Master did not properly assess the significance of the data concerning the prevailing currents, particularly as published in the sailing directions, Australia Pilot Volume 3.
  4. The Master's assessment of the current and ships expected speed was wrong. The vessel was apparently set to the West while the speed made good was hardly affected. The master and officers seriously underestimated the spped of the vessel. Given that the last definite position of the vessel was obtained within 50 miles of the coast, it would have been reasonable to assume that any adverse current experienced then, may have dissipated when the vessel was virtually in the open ocean. Had the dead reckoning positions been run up at the vessel's service speed, the solar position line obtained at 0800 hours on the 26th April would have indicated that the vessel was to the west of her intended course.
  5. The degree to which the concentration of the Chief Officer was affected by the presence of the Chief Engineer is not known.
  6. Although it is realized that the deck log and bridge note book would have been written up some time after the grounding, there is still doubt over the times and distances given for the interval between first visually sighting the reef and running aground. While these anomalies are not considered significant in relation to the cause of the grounding, it does call into question the accuracy of the officers statements as it has been established that the ship's average speed for the previous day had been 11.54 knots.
  7. The engines were run astern intermittently between 1736 hours and 1913 hours, without a full assessment of the damage to the vessel being made. This action may have increased the damage to the hull and, in the worst case, if the ship had come off the reef, it may have sunk immediately. Subsequent to the grounding the seriousness of the situation and potential danger to the ship was compounded in that:-
  8. The design of the duct keel and engine room cofferdam system as an integral unit, with no provision for subdivision, made the engine room vulnerable in the event of bottom damage. Water entered the engine room, from the duct keel and cofferdam, through sounding pipes, the duct keel venting system and leaking manhole covers.
  9. The cofferdam sounding pipe caps were left uncapped.
  10. There would appear to have been an excessive amount of rags and jute in the engine room bilges which caused the pumps to become blocked.
Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 254KB]
General details
Date: 26 April 1986   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: N/A    
Location: Outer Route GBR    
State: Queensland    
Release date: 01 October 1986   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Vessel details

Vessel details
Vessel Jhansi Ki Rani D1549  
Flag India  
Type of operation Bulk carrier  
Damage to vessel Minor  
Departure point Newcastle, NSW  
Departure time N/A  
Destination Higashie Harima, Japan  
Last update 18 May 2016