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Late in the evening of 28 September 1997, the Australian fishing vessel Teresa was lying at anchor about 8 miles south-west of Termination Island, south of Esperance. The Skipper and Deckhand, who had both been engaged in drop-line fishing during most of the day, had gone to bed shortly before 2200.

At about 2245, both men were woken by a loud bang and violent movement and they realised they must have been hit by another vessel. Climbing into the wheelhouse, they were unable to see anything through the windows, so they went out on deck and the Skipper opened the engine room hatch to check for flooding. Both men then looked upwards and saw, close on the port quarter, the accommodation lights of a vessel. The vessel passed close by to port and moved off towards the east without stopping or making radio contact.

Teresa was found to have sustained considerable damage to the bulwark at the bow. As the anchor rope had snagged the timber on the port bow, the rope was buoyed and cut loose and the Skipper decided to return to Esperance.

The partly laden, 26,066 tonnes deadweight, Cypriot flag bulk carrier Atlantis Two sailed from Esperance Roads anchorage at 1736 on 28 September 1997, bound for Thevenard, South Australia. After clearing the approach channel, the Master kept the vessel to seaward of the outlying banks of the Recherche Archipelago. No other vessels were sighted during the evening and, at 2345 when 13 miles south by east of Termination Island, course was altered from 122 to 090.

Late on 29 September the Master received a telex message from the vessel's operators, informing him that Atlantis Two was suspected of being the vessel that had collided with the fishing vessel Teresa at 2250 in the vicinity of Termination Island. The Master asked the Third Mate if there had been a collision, or if he had seen the fishing vessel and the Third Mate responded in the negative to both questions.

When Atlantis Two berthed at Thevenard on the morning of 1 October 1997, the vessel bore a recent contact mark on the hull, low down on the starboard bow. Under scientific examination, particles of red paint taken from this contact mark matched the hull paint of Teresa and particles of paint deposited on the damaged bow of Teresa matched the boot-topping paint of Atlantis Two.


These conclusions identify, where possible, the factors that contributed to the incident and should not be read as apportioning blame or liability to any particular organisation or individual. The identification of a two-way transfer of paint between Atlantis Two and Teresa confirmed that Atlantis Two was the vessel that collided with Teresa. From the evidence available, it was not possible to determine categorically what lights were exhibited by Teresa, or whether the Third Mate aboard Atlantis Two was keeping a proper look-out. However, the following factors are considered to have contributed to the incident:

  • The bridge of Atlantis Two was not properly manned and was operating contrary to normal safe practice, in that no seaman was assigned to look-out duties, the officer being on watch on his own.
  • The Master's decision to release the seamen from lookout duties, in order to maximise their time on maintenance work.
  • The absence on board Atlantis Two of a Company Operating Manual, detailing Company policies on safety and bridge manning issues.
  • No look-out was being maintained aboard Teresa.
  • Teresa was anchored in a sealane, albeit an infrequently used one, when there was a relatively much safer anchorage area seven miles to the north-east.
  • The regulatory minimum manning requirements for a vessel the size of Teresa, engaged in the fishing industry, virtually preclude the keeping of a look-out while the vessel is anchored for the night.
  • There are no instructions or guidelines to fishermen on choice of anchoring positions.
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[ Download PDF: 438KB]
General details
Date: 28 September 1997 Investigation status: Completed 
Location:Sth of Esperance Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Western Australia  
Release date: 30 April 1998  
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Vessel 1 details
Vessel: Atlantis Two 
Flag: Cypru 
IMO: 7933000 
Type of Operation: Bulk carrier 
Damage to Vessel: Nil 
Departure point:Surabaya, Indonesia
Destination:Esperance, WA
Vessel 2 details
Vessel: Teresa LFBE57 
Type of Operation: Crayfishing vessel 
Damage to Vessel: Minor 
Departure point:Esperance, WA
Destination:South-east of Esperance
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Last update 19 May 2016