Marine safety investigations & reports

Contact between the Maltese flag bulk cargo vessel Amarantos

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On the morning of 10 April 2000 the 64 957 tonne, Maltese flag, panamax bulk carrier Amarantos was inbound to the port of Wallaroo at the eastern side of the Spencer Gulf, South Australia. The vessel was in ballast and intending to load 20 000 tonnes of wheat for export to Iraq.

The main engine was prepared for the arrival stand-by and tested astern at 0510; the chief engineer was conducting engine manoeuvring from the control room.

A Ports Corp South Australia pilot boarded the vessel outside the Wallaroo entrance channel. At 0612, after the pilot had made his way to the bridge, a pilot/master information exchange took place. The pilot took charge of the navigation and brought the ship on to an easterly heading to enter the port south of the shipping channel.

At 0645, Amarantos was met by the two harbour tugs, Kalanbi and Ungarra, south of the number 11 channel beacons. Kalanbi, the marginally smaller of the two tugs was 'made fast' to the ship's bow and Ungarra to the stern.

Amarantos continued a 'normal' approach to the Wallaroo jetty and, at 0708, the master of the vessel noted the ship's speed at 3 knots ahead with the ship approximately 500 m north-east of the berth. The pilot was turning the ship, at this time, onto a southerly heading to approach the berth nearly at right angles. Off the berth he intended using the tugs and the effect of the transverse thrust of the propeller with the engine going astern, to berth 'port-side-to'.

Despite putting the engine astern and the tugs attempting to turn Amarantos, the ship maintained a nearly steady course. Initially this did not concern the pilot, but with the bow 30 m from the wharf, he ordered all personnel to be cleared from the jetty, as contact seemed inevitable.

At a time logged by the ship's crew as 0720, Amarantos made contact with the Wallaroo jetty causing substantial damage to the jetty deck timbers, piles, and the grain loader and its supporting superstructure mounted on the jetty. The vessel struck the jetty almost at right angles and continued on into the jetty for a distance of 3.5-4 m. The ship sustained only minor non-structural damage in the incident.

Amarantos moved clear of the jetty immediately after the contact, and was subsequently berthed by the pilot alongside the number 2 north berth with all lines ashore at 0820.


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

On 10 April, 2000 the bulk carrier Amarantos stuck the Wallaroo jetty within 15 of the perpendicular as a result of:

1. The pilot misjudged the speed of approach to the jetty.

2. The angle of approach at right angles to the jetty allowed only a minimal margin for error; a more oblique angle would have reduced the risk.

3. The tugs lacked both the manoeuvrability and power to either; arrest the ship's forward momentum and/or swing the ship off the jetty in time to avert the incident.

The following factors are seen as contributing to the incident:

4. The limited under keel clearance, combined with the ship's speed, negated the transverse thrust of the propeller.

5. The propeller was operating with diminished efficiency as a result of incomplete immersion at the ship's aft arrival draught.

6. No formal risk assessment had been completed for the berthing and unberthing of panamax size ships in the port of Wallaroo prior to the incident.

7. There was a lack of proper bridge resource management in that: the master, for the initial period of the pilotage, was more interested in listening to the radio; the pilot neither asked for, nor was told, the ship's speed from the GPS; communications between the master and the pilot were minimal.


8. The lack of objective evidence and sloppy record-keeping on board Amarantos complicated and extended the investigation.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 299KB]
General details
Date: 10 April 2000   Investigation status: Completed  
Location: Wallaroo    
State: South Australia    
Release date: 18 December 2000   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Vessel details

Vessel details
Vessel Amarantos  
Flag Malt  
IMO 7918256  
Type of operation Bulk carrier  
Damage to vessel Minor  
Departure point Port of Wallaroo, Spencer Gulf, SA  
Destination Iraq  
Last update 19 May 2016