Marine safety investigations & reports

Collision between Iron Kembla and fv Kasuga Maru

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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At 0505 hours local time on 21 February 1990 the Australian flag bulk carrier 'IRON KEMBLA', whilst on passage from Newcastle NSW to Tobata, Japan, collided with the Japanese fishing vessel 'KASUGA MARU' in a position approximately 4 miles WSW of Hino Misaki lighthouse in Kii Suido.

The fishing vessel capsized and one of the crew members lost his life.


  1. Had both ships maintained their course and speed as those for the period 0452-0459, the collision would not have occurred.
  2. The collision is considered to have been brought about by the KASUGA MARU altering back onto an easterly course after having first altered onto a northerly course, parallel to that of the IRON KEMBLA. This second alteration occurred almost simultaneously with the alteration to starboard (towards the east) by the IRON KEMBLA. The coincidence of the alterations made the collision inevitable.
  3. The KASUGA MARU was not exhibiting the correct navigation lights, either those for a power-driven vessel under way or those for a vessel engaged in fishing, as required by the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.
  4. The Master of the IRON KEMBLA was correct in ordering an alteration of course to starboard when the KASUGA MARU was observed to alter course to port to run on a parallel course.
  5. The Master of the IRON KEMBLA was correct in advising the Japanese Authorities immediately after the incident that a collision had occurred.
  6. The master of IRON KEMBLA was correct in turning about in order to offer assistance to the crew of the capsized fishing vessel.
  7. The Master of IRON KEMBLA is considered to have been at fault in assuming the KASUGA MARU to be power driven and that he therefore had the right of way, when the lights reportedly observed were those required to be shown by a sailing vessel.
  8. The master of IRON KEMBLA could have prevented the situation developing by making an early, small alteration of course to port, to assist the small vessel to cross his bow.
  9. The Master of IRON KEMBLA is considered to have been negligent in that he did not make use of all of the navigational equipment available to him in conning the ship.
  10. The Master of the IRON KEMBLA is considered to have been remiss in not reducing speed immediately the capsized fishing vessel was sighted.
  11. The Bridge Procedure aboard the IRON KEMBLA were deficient in that the Officer of the Watch did not, as a matter of course, monitor shipping on the radar so as to assist the Master by keeping him informed of the distances of other ships, or by targetting other ships on the ARPA.
Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 266KB]
General details
Date: 21 February 1990   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: N/A    
Location: Japan    
State: International    
Release date: 01 October 1990    
Report status: Final   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
  Highest injury level: Fatal  

Vessel 1 details

Vessel 1 details
Vessel Kasuga Maru  
Flag Japan  
Type of operation Fishing vessel  
Damage to vessel Destroyed  
Departure point N/A  
Departure time N/A  
Destination 4 miles WSW, Kui Suido  

Vessel 2 details

Vessel 2 details
Vessel Iron Kembla  
Flag Aus  
IMO 8412455  
Type of operation Bulk carrier  
Damage to vessel Nil  
Departure point Newcastle, NSW  
Departure time N/A  
Destination Tobata, Japan  
  Crew Passenger Ground Total
Fatal: 1 0 0 1
Total: 1 0 0 1
Last update 18 May 2016