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At 0840 on 29 September 1994, the Russian container vessel Kapitan Serykh sailed from Brotherson Dock, Botany Bay under the direction of a pilot of the Sydney Ports Pilot Service and with the assistance of two tugs. The wind was from the north-west at 20-30 knots.

The vessel cleared the dock stem first and was then turned to starboard to make the approach to the dredged departure channel. The two tugs were released as soon as the vessel had been turned in the swinging basin.

Kapitan Serykh failed to provide sufficient propeller thrust and to gain sufficient speed to fully execute the eighty degrees turn into the departure channel, despite the Pilot's repeated call for full ahead and grounded on the south side of the channel at 0900.

The vessel was refloated, with the assistance of tugs, after about half an hour and returned to Brotherson Dock, where divers ascertained there had been no structural damage to the vessel.


These conclusions identify the different factors contributing to the accident and should not be read as apportioning blame or liability to any particular person or organisation.

It is considered that:

  1. The grounding was the result of Kapitan Serykh not attaining sufficient propeller thrust/speed to execute the turn on to the leads in the wind conditions at the time.
  2. The exchange of information between the Master and the Pilot did not conform to the requirements of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers, or with the guidelines contained in the International Chamber of Shipping's "Bridge Procedures Guide".
  3. For reasons unknown, the Master did not provide the manoeuvring full ahead pitch, as indicated on the pilot card, repeatedly requested by the Pilot.
  4. The option of putting Kapitan Serykh aground on the sand shelf, as against colliding with no.6 beacon, was the one less likely to cause damage to the vessel.
  5. Had the Pilot been informed of the steerage problem during port entry in the high winds on 27 September 1994, he would have been forewarned of a possible problem during departure.
  6. It would appear to be appropriate, under strong wind conditions, for a pilot aboard a high windage area vessel to retain the tug(s) until the turn on to the Port Botany leads has been seen to be progressing satisfactorily and for the Port and Pilotage authorities to have a written policy on the subject.
Download Final Report
[ Download PDF: 768KB]
General details
Date: 29 September 1994 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: N/A  
Location:Botany Bay Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: New South Wales  
Release date: 13 March 1995  
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
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Last update 18 May 2016