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On 5 April 1993, Oji Maru No 37, a Japanese long line fishing vessel, was on passage from fishing grounds south-west of North West Cape to Fremantle. Just before midnight local time, it ran aground at full speed on Leschenault Reef, two & a half miles off the coast, about 39 miles north of Fremantle pilot boarding ground. The weather was fine & the visibility clear.

Nobody was injured & no pollution resulted from the grounding.

The vessel sustained bottom damage including a hole in No 6 fuel tank, which was empty, & lost the use of the rudder. The speed at which Oij Maru No 37 grounded nearly carried it over the reef into deep water, but the skeg lodged fast. At about 0200 on 6 April, the vessel refloated & the Master dropped the port anchor at 0218 on the shore side of the reef.

A tug from Fremantle arrived at the vessel at 2210 and, in the morning of 7 April, Oji Maru No 37 was taken in tow to Fremantle.

At Fremantle, temporary repairs were carried out to the holed tank, the skeg & the rudder. These repairs were completed to the satisfaction of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority surveyor & the vessel left for Japan at 1130 on 11 April 1993.


The grounding of Oji Maru No 37 resulted from the failure to observe the basic principles of navigation & the recommendations of IMO Resolution A.484(XII) in that:

  1. The Master failed to navigate the vessel in a professional & careful manner, in that he did not check the vessel's position at sufficiently frequent intervals, on appropriate & up to date charts, to ensure that the vessel followed the planned course.
  2. The Master failed to ensure that an appropriately qualified officer was in charge of the watch & in the wheelhouse at all times.
  3. The Master should not have relied on an unqualified deck hand to maintain a watch.
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