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The Chinese motor bulk carrier Jin Shan hai of 34,990 tonnes summer deadweight passed Low Isles at about 0000 Eastern Standard Time, 17 June 1991, on a course of 152° at a speed of approximately 13 knots, while on passage from the port of Gove, Northern Territory, to Gladstone, Queensland, with a part cargo of alumina. The vessel was shaping a course for Cairns fairway buoy where the pilot of the Torres Strait and Queensland Coast Pilot Service was to be disembarked.

At the same time the Australian prawn trawler Kekenni was engaged in trawling off Batt Reef steering about 135°, at a speed of about 3 knots.

At about 0035 the two vessels collided in approximate position 16°30.0' South 145°40.2' East, about 26 miles north-north-west of Cairns. The visibility was clear with a calm sea and slight swell. The Kekenni subsequently sank and the three crew took to the trawler's dinghy.

At 0042 Townsville Marine Communications Station received a message from the trawler Prospector reporting the incident and confirming that the Prospector was proceeding to search for the crew.

The Master of the Jin Shan Hai was called to the bridge, and the vessel turned to render assistance.

The three crew members of the Kekenni were rescued from the dinghy by the Prospector. Apart from minor bruises and abrasions the crew of the Kekenni suffered no injury. The Prospector returned to cairns with the crew aboard.

At 0110 the Jin Shan Hai resumed passage for Gladstone.


The Inspector concludes that:

  1. The Jin Shan Hai was give way vessel and had a duty to keep clear of the Kekenni as required under Rule 18(a)(iv) of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1974 (Colregs).
  2. The collision between the Jan Shan Hai and the Kekenni was caused by the failure of the officer of the watch, the Second Mate of the Jin Shan hai to take early and substantial action to avoid a close quarter situation.
  3. The Second Mate failed to keep a proper look-out as defined by Rule 5 of the Colregs and failed to establish the risk of collision as required under Rule 7.
  4. The Master of the Jin Shan hai was not informed of the developing situation and only became aware of the incident after the collision. After the collision the Master acted correctly in returning to render assistance and exchange details of the vessels involved.
  5. The Kekenni was engaged in trawling and was a vessel engaged in fishing as defined by Rule3(d) of the Colregs.
  6. The Skipper of the Kekenni failed to keep a proper lookout as defined by Rule 5 of the Colregs, in that he failed to maintain a lookout astern by either sight, sound or radar.
  7. The Kekenni's A frame probably caused a radar shadow area over an angle of about 15° on either quarter.
  8. The Kekenni's working lights were of such intensity as to obliterate the all round lights and stern light required by Rule 26(b)(i) and (iii) respectively; and were exhibited contrary to Rule 20(b).
  9. Neither the use of alcohol or drugs were a contributory factor.
  10. Both those involved on the Jin Shan Hai and the Kekenni had maintained a normal daily routine. There is no evidence of any increased fatigue factor outside the normal working parameters.
  11. There was no reason why the Queensland Coast and Torres Strait Pilot should have been on the bridge. Navigation in the area would not have been enhanced by local knowledge, and both vessels were south of the recommended two-way route.
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General details
Date: 01 July 1991 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 0035 EST  
Location:Great Barrier Reef Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Queensland Occurrence type: Collision 
Release date: 28 July 1992  
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Vessel 1 details
Vessel: Jin Shan Hai 
Flag: China 
IMO: 8025549 
Type of Operation: Bulk carrier 
Damage to Vessel: Nil 
Departure point:Gove, NT
Departure time:N/A
Destination:Gladstone, Qld
Vessel 2 details
Vessel: Kekenni 
Flag: Aus 
Type of Operation: Prawn trawler 
Damage to Vessel: Destroyed 
Departure point:Cairns, Qld
Departure time:N/A
Destination:Batt Reef, Qld
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Last update 18 May 2016