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On Sunday 21 January 1996, the Singaporean flag, 1941 tonnes deadweight livestock carrier Carabao 1, while sailing under pilotage from the privately owned Labroy wharf, Hudson Creek, Darwin, struck Old Man Rock, in the East Arm of the harbour.

No compartments were breached and no pollution occurred. An inspection carried out by divers ascertained that only minor indentation was visible on sections of bottom plating on the vessel's starboard side and the vessel was permitted to continue on its voyage.


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

The following factors are considered to have contributed to Carabao 1 making contact with Old Man Rock:

  1. Faced with a deviation from the usual operational procedures, the Harbour Master did not fully evaluate the changed circumstances and assess what appropriate action was required.
  2. The Harbour Master's decision to make an earlier, quicker turn than normal, which resulted in Carabao 1 being shaped to pass Old Man Rock on the westerly heading at a much closer distance than normal.
  3. The phenomenon of tunnel, or narrowing field vision while the Harbour Master was executing the turn around Old Man Rock.
  4. The absence of any checks to ensure that Carabao 1 was at the correct wheel-over position before, and on the intended track at completion of, the turn off Old Man Rock.
  5. A totally unexpected strong northerly tidal flow to the south-east of Old Man Rock.
  6. The lack of structured bridge management procedures on board, to assist and monitor a pilot's actions.
  7. The lack of a drawn up pilotage plan, one that included contingency alternatives.
  8. The lack of a tidal monitoring regime for the area eastwards of the new port construction, either under the new port construction contract or under Port Authority Management procedures, to ascertain any changes in tidal flows, particularly at Spring.
Download Final Report
[ Download PDF: 237KB]
General details
Date: 26 January 1996 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: N/A  
Location:Darwin Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Northern Territory  
Release date: 30 September 1996  
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Vessel details
Vessel: Carabao 1 
Flag: Singa 
IMO: 7368736 
Type of Operation: Livestock carrier 
Damage to Vessel: Minor 
Departure point:Hudson Creek, Darwin Harbour
Departure time:N/A
Destination:Cilicap, South Kalimantan
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Last update 19 May 2016