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Summary

Summary

At 0300 on the morning of 18 January 2001, the Hong Kong flag geared bulk carrier Handymariner was 26 miles1 off the coast of Western Australia, enroute to Bunbury to load a cargo of alumina. The ship was on a course of 156 (T) at a speed of 14 knots. The wind was from the south-south-east at force six with a rough sea of 1.5'2 m on a low swell. The visibility was estimated at 10 miles with a partly cloudy sky.

The same morning, a 15.65 m timber rock lobster fishing vessel, Lipari, left Port Bouvard at around 0310 to check its lobster pots which were set some 36 miles in a south-westerly direction from the port. On board Lipari were the skipper and two deckhands. Shortly after leaving port, the two deckhands went below to sleep. The skipper stayed on the vessel's fly bridge for the first six miles steering a course of 235 at 15 knots and then went down to the wheelhouse and engaged the autopilot. He remained in the wheelhouse listening to some music.

At 0410 the mate on watch on Handymariner detected Lipari ahead, and to port, of his ship and commenced tracking the fishing vessel on radar. The ARPA equipped radar indicated that Lipari's range at its closest point of approach was going to be small, so the mate attempted to call the fishing vessel on VHF channel 16. Despite several radio calls he received no response as, unknown to him, Lipari's VHF radio was not working. The mate then attempted to warn the fishing boat using an aldis lamp and the ship's forward whistle, but still received no response. Lipari maintained a steady course and speed.

When Lipari had closed to within four miles, the mate disengaged the ship's auto pilot and ordered the look-out onto the helm in preparation for a course alteration. Lipari continued to close with the ship on a steady course and speed, apparently unaware of the presence of the ship and unresponsive to Handymariner's radio calls, light and sound signals. With a collision now imminent the mate ordered a course alteration to starboard.

At about this time the skipper in Lipari's wheelhouse heard the ship's whistle. He made his way to the fly bridge where he identified the ship dead ahead. He turned the fishing vessel's helm hard to port but it responded slowly as the auto pilot was still engaged in the wheelhouse.

At approximately 0435 Lipari and Handymariner collided, the fishing vessel's starboard bow making contact with the ship's hull plating on the port side adjacent to number one hold. The ship sustained no damage and there were no injuries sustained by the crew of either vessel, but Lipari had been holed on the starboard bow above the waterline.

After the collision, Lipari's skipper inspected the damage and decided that the vessel was not safe to work. He followed Handymariner for approximately five minutes before turning north to Fremantle. Lipari arrived safely at a boat repair facility in Fremantle later in the morning.

Handymariner resumed its course to Bunbury and arrived at the anchorage at 0736 without further incident.


1 Miles referred as nautical miles = 1 852 m.

 
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