Marine safety investigations & reports

Lifeboat incident on board Washington Trader

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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At 2036 on 5 August 2000, the Philippines flag, panamax bulk carrier, Washington Trader arrived at the anchorage at the Abbot Point coal loader in Queensland. The ship was in ballast and intending to load a full cargo of coal for export to Japan.

While at anchor on 6 August, the master decided to take the opportunity to conduct an emergency steering and fire drill, followed by an abandon ship drill using the ship's totally enclosed lifeboats. At 1600, the crew commenced the abandon ship drill. As there had been a full lifeboat drill some seven weeks previously, the drill involved a boat muster, followed by the lowering of the unmanned lifeboats to deck level.

By 1612, the boat muster had been completed and both lifeboats prepared for lowering. The master ordered the starboard lifeboat to be lowered first and this was completed without incident.

The master then ordered the port boat to be lowered. The mate, who was the officer in charge of the port boat, started lowering the boat by operating the brake release lever on the davit winch. When the boat was approximately halfway to the deck, the master saw the after end of the boat swing and jerk twice followed by the after fall detaching from its on-load release hook. When the after fall detached, the boat's stern fell and swung forward and the boat was seen to jerk twice more followed by the forward on-load release hook releasing its fall. The boat then fell stern first approximately 15 m to the water below.

After the incident, the lifeboat was brought back alongside. There was obvious damage to the stern of the lifeboat and a jacobs ladder was rigged to allow the mate to enter the boat to inspect the damage. He found that the boat was flooded and severely damaged at the stern with the canopy broken and set-in. He also found that the after deck around the on-load release hook had been damaged by the impact.

After initial unsuccessful attempts to recover the lifeboat, it was secured alongside overnight. It was recovered early the next morning using the auxiliary lifting shackles on the on-load release hook units. The lifeboat was re-stowed in its davit and secured with additional lashing.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 345KB]
General details
Date: 06 August 2000   Investigation status: Completed  
Location: Abbott Point    
State: Queensland    
Release date: 10 January 2003   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Vessel details

Vessel details
Vessel Washington Trader  
Flag Phili  
IMO 9211602  
Type of operation Bulk carrier  
Damage to vessel Nil  
Departure point Kawasaki, Japan  
Destination Abbot Point, Queensland  
Last update 19 May 2016