Marine safety investigations & reports

Lifeboat accident and injury to crew aboard Cape Kestrel

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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At 1915 on 11 October 2001 the Panama flag bulk carrier Cape Kestrel, in ballast, anchored off the port of Dampier, Western Australia, waiting for a berth to load a cargo of iron ore for China. The next morning, the master decided to conduct a lifeboat drill and to lower the port lifeboat to the sea. Since the vessel was to berth port side to the ore loader, his intention was to also lower the starboard boat while alongside.

At about 0845, the boat, with the mate and four crewmembers on board, was lowered to the water where the hooks were disengaged. The release mechanism for the boat was checked and the engine was run ahead and astern. When the hooks were reconnected, a seaman on deck operated the remote control to recover the boat.

The remote control, however, did not start the winch motor, and the mate asked the first engineer, who was on deck at the time, to hoist the boat. The first engineer went to the starter panel for the lifeboat winches, located in the air conditioning room aft in the accommodation, and started the winch by manually depressing the main contactor for the motor.

Hoisting was stopped at the main deck, where the master, who had been watching from the bridge wing, ordered the mate to arrange for the occupants of the boat to disembark before swinging the boat in. The mate replied that the boat was too far from the deck for people to disembark safely and that it could be hoisted to the boarding platform with its crew on board.

Despite the master's protests, hoisting of the boat resumed with the first engineer depressing the contactor in the starter panel. The davits came in, past the limit switches and up against the stops, with the winch still running. The forward fall parted, followed by the after fall, causing the boat to fall about 20 metres to the water. Four crew members in the boat were injured, three of them seriously.

The mate's injuries were the most serious and he was taken ashore by pilot boat. He was examined at the hospital at Karratha and transferred to a hospital in Perth for treatment.

Three other crewmembers in the boat were taken ashore by helicopter for treatment at the hospital at Karratha. Two of them were repatriated after treatment, while the remaining crewmember rejoined the ship before it sailed. The bosun, who had also been in the boat, suffered only bruising to his forehead.

The boat was later recovered. New falls were fitted to the davits and cracks in the boat were repaired. Broken windows were scheduled for repair at the earliest opportunity.

The Panama Maritime Authority authorised the vessel to sail for a period of 30 days until 12 November 2001 while repairs to the boat were arranged, provided that liferafts of the same capacity were provided on board. Before the vessel sailed from Dampier, a suitable liferaft was fitted on board.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 618KB]
General details
Date: 12 October 2001   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: N/A    
Location: Dampier    
State: Western Australia    
Release date: 27 August 2002   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Serious  

Vessel details

Vessel details
Vessel Cape Kestrel  
Flag Pan  
IMO 9036014  
Type of operation Bulk carrier  
Damage to vessel Nil  
Departure point Dampier, WA  
Departure time 1915  
Destination China  
  Crew Passenger Ground Total
Serious: 4 0 0 4
Total: 4 0 0 4
Last update 19 May 2016