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At about 0001 on 29 May 2003 the 225 m long Panama flagged bulk carrier Asian Nova fouled the warps of the Australian fishing vessel Sassenach. The prawn trawler was dragged against the hull of the bulk carrier, damaging its port quarter and causing it to capsize and sink.

Sassenach's skipper lost his life as a result of the collision, his body was recovered from the sunken trawler on 5 June 2003. The deckhand was able to jump clear at impact and was rescued some five hours later by a searching fishing boat.

Immediately after the collision Asian Nova's master was called to the bridge, the vessel was stopped and the incident reported. Asian Nova remained on scene until released by Reefcentre.

The report concluded:

  1. The third mate's course alteration to starboard just after 2330 was insufficient to provide an adequate passing distance astern of Sassenach.
  2. The third mate's decision to make the relatively small alteration to starboard was made on the basis of information provided by the ARPA but was not in accordance with the company's instructions or good watchkeeping practice.
  3. The third mate had sufficient sea room to make a bold alteration.
  4. The proximity of the fishing vessel at the change of the watch meant that the third mate should not have handed over control of the watch until passed and clear of the fishing vessel.
  5. Neither the second nor third mates followed the recommended practice, nor company requirements, or the ship's standing orders when handing over control of the navigational watch.
  6. The second mate resumed the course marked on the chart before properly assessing whether it was safe to do so.
  7. The second mate did not keep a proper lookout.
  8. Inter-personal relations were possibly a factor in the deficient hand-over between the third and second mates.
  9. The assessment by the fishing vessel crew that Asian Nova was passing clear was made on scanty information.

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