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At 2300 hours on 16 November, the German flag container ship Columbus Victoria anchored in Port Phillip Bay with Point Gellibrand bearing 353 x 1.75 miles. The vessel anchored to the port anchor with 5 shackles on deck in about 12 m of water. The ship's draught was 6.3 m forward and 7.25 m aft. Sea watches were maintained on the bridge and the engine was put on 20 minutes notice. The ship was due to berth at about 0600 on 18 November.

At 1220 on 17 November, the chemical tanker Sampet Hope anchored with Point Gellibrand bearing 346 x 1.35 miles. The anchor position was about 4.5 cables north and east of Columbus Victoria. The tanker had a cargo of non-volatile (kerosene type) solvent in four centre tanks. The weather at this time was fair with a south-south-west to south-west wind at about 8 knots. Sea watches were maintained on the bridge and the engine was left on instant (3-4 minutes) readiness.

From about 1400 on 17 November, the wind backed and increased in strength. At 1800, the wind speed was recorded at the Harbour Control Centre as west of south at 17-25 knots. By 2200, the wind was noted as southerly at 21-31 knots, gusting to 35 knots, with rain. The sea at the anchorage was described as 'short and choppy'.

At about 2215, the officer of the watch aboard 'Columbus Victoria' detected the ship was dragging anchor, the Master was called and the engine room given notice that the engine was required.

At about 2220, the officer of the watch on Sampet Hope realised that Columbus Victoria was dragging anchor and that risk of collision existed. He called the Master and at 2226 the engine was ordered. At about 2230, crew members of 'Sampet Hope' were deploying fenders as the container ship approached. The engine and bow thrust were ready for use.

At a time put at between 2232 and 2233, the two vessels collided. The initial impact was taken forward of the tanker's collision bulkhead, on the bulbous bow and the flare of the starboard bow. At about this time 'Columbus Victoria' let go the other anchor, but it did not arrest the drift.

A second impact occurred at 2236. By using the bow thrust, engine and rudder, Sampet Hope cleared Columbus Victoria at 2240 and the tanker weighed anchor at 2252 and the master repositioned the ship.

At about 2240, the engine on Columbus Victoria was ready for manoeuvring. At 2250, the vessel started to manoeuvre and weighed anchor at 2305, re-anchoring at 2330 with 7 shackles in the water to the south of its original position.


These conclusions identify the different factors contributing to the incident and should not be read as apportioning liability or blame to any particular individual or organisation. The following factors are considered to have contributed to the collision between Columbus Victoria and Sampet Hope.

1. The Master and Officers on Columbus Victoria took insufficient account of the increase in wind strength and the likelihood that pronounced yawing could trip the anchor out of its holding ground.

2. The time required to prepare the Columbus Victoria's engine for manoeuvring was excessive in the circumstances and the engine should have been ready for immediate use.

3. The 2000 anchor position did not appear to cause concern to the watchkeepers on Columbus Victoria and any ambiguity between the 2000 position and other positions plotted on the chart was not resolved.

4. The lack of decision to move the vessel at 2000 when the Master of Columbus Victoria voiced his annoyance at Sampet Hope's position, when the distance between the two ships had apparently reduced from 0.5 miles to 0.3 miles.

The Inspector further considers:

5. The Master, officer of the watch and crew of Sampet Hope reacted promptly to the emergency and did all that was possible to avert the collision.

6. The anchors on Sampet Hope are apparently not arranged so that they can be slipped in an emergency.

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