On the morning of 25 March 2000 the 39 015 tonnes deadweight, Liberian flag, geared bulk carrier Silver Bin was heading south to Townsville via the inner route of the Great Barrier Reef. An Australian Reef Pilot, who had boarded the vessel at Booby Island the previous evening, was conducting the navigation of the ship. The sea was slight, with an easterly breeze of less than 10 knots, and no swell. The ship was making headway at just under 12 knots. During the morning, visibility had been reduced by an occasional rain squall. On the bridge with the pilot were the master, third mate and a quartermaster who was hand-steering the vessel.
At 1145, 5 miles north of Chapman Island, the pilot had a radio conversation with a yacht in the area. This conversation was overheard by the skipper of Chinderah Star, a prawn trawler, approximately 3.6 miles south of Chapman Island, heading north at 9.2 knots in the shipping channel. The skipper, in the wheelhouse of the trawler, identified the ship on his radar and visually, but did not make radio contact. His two deck hands were asleep in the cabin below.
At 1157 the pilot altered Silver Bin's course to 174° (T) to pass 0.5 miles west of the Chapman Island light. This alteration brought the vessel onto an end-on collision course with Chinderah Star now 4.2 miles away. The bridge team on the ship had not seen the north-bound trawler either visually or on their radars.
After the course change, a rain squall moved into the shipping channel from east of Chapman Island, and enveloped Silver Bin in heavy rain. The crew of the ship estimated the range of visibility in the heavy rain at 160 m. Chinderah Star was also enveloped by the squall and the skipper lost sight of Silver Bin both visually and on radar as a result of rain clutter. The crew on Silver Bin's bridge were still unaware of the northbound trawler in the channel despite their visual and radar watch. Neither vessel altered speed or course. Silver Bin and Chinderah Star collided at 1209, 0.5 miles west of the Chapman Island light, the fishing trawler's starboard side making contact with the ship's starboard shoulder under the flare of the bow. The fishing vessel sustained significant damage to the wheelhouse, the starboard trawl boom and along its starboard side. There were no injuries as a result of the collision.
After the collision, radio contact was established between the two vessels and assistance was offered to the fishing vessel by the ship. This was declined and the ship continued on to Townsville. After retrieving the trawl gear that had been left in the water after the collision, Chinderah Star's skipper contacted the trawler's owner. The decision was made to return to Cairns to repair the collision damage. Both Chinderah Star and Silver Bin arrived at their respective destinations in the early hours of 27 March 2000.
|Date:||25 March 2000||Investigation status:||Completed|
|Location:||Off Cape Direction|
|Release date:||14 January 2002||Occurrence category:||Incident|
|Report status:||Final||Highest injury level:||None|
Vessel 1 details
|Type of operation||Bulk carrier|
|Damage to vessel||Nil|
|Departure point||Bing Bong, Gulf of Carpentaria|
Vessel 2 details
|Vessel||Chinderah Star, 2013QB|
|Type of operation||Prawn trawler, class 3B|
|Damage to vessel||Substantial|
|Departure point||Cairns, Queensland|