Marine safety investigations & reports

Collision involving bulk carrier Lancelot and fv Jenabar

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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At 0400 on 21 August 2003, the Maltese flag bulk carrier Lancelot was off Diamond Head, on the New South Wales coast, heading south to Newcastle. The visibility was good and the second mate had earlier sighted the lights of a group of four fishing vessels to starboard. He used the automatic radar plotting aid (ARPA) to assess their movements. When the mate took over the watch, he too used the ARPA to plot the movements of the approaching fishing vessels.

The ARPA indicated that the nearest fishing vessel was on a reciprocal course and that its closest point of approach (CPA) was more than one and a half; miles1 to starboard. Soon afterwards, however, the mate noticed that it was crossing from starboard to port. He altered the ship's course to starboard, clearing the other vessel, before ordering the original course resumed.

The mate then realised that the second fishing vessel was on a collision course and he ordered the helm 'hard to port', attempting to steer away from it.However, the fishing vessel continued to close with the ship and, when the mate realised that a collision was imminent, he ordered full starboard rudder to minimise the angle of impact. At 0427 the two vessels collided.

The four fishing vessels had sailed from Forster earlier that night. At 0230, on board Jenabar, the second vessel in the group, the skipper, who had kept the initial watch, handed over to one of the deckhands. The watch changed again at 0330 when a second deckhand took over. The vessel, on autopilot on a north-easterly course, was heading for an area off Port Macquarie with the other fishing vessels. At 0425 the deckhand, who was seated at a table in the wheelhouse, said that he had checked the radar and had seen no sign of a ship. However, a minute or so later, when he looked out, he saw the dark shape of a ship, extremely close, on the starboard bow. Before he could get to the helm and disengage the autopilot, the fishing vessel had collided with the ship.

Though the fishing vessel was extensively damaged above the water line, none of its crew of four was injured. The ship turned to assist but, after being informed by Jenabar's skipper that assistance was not required, resumed its voyage to Newcastle. Jenabar returned to Forster to have the damage surveyed and to organise repairs. This report concludes that:

  • There was no evidence that Jenabar had made any significant change of course in the hour before the collision
  • The mate on Lancelot did not check compass bearings of the approaching fishing vessels to assess the risk of collision nor were his alterations of course to port to prevent the collision at about 0420, and again at 0423, appropriate
  • The moderate seas and the size and construction of Jenabar would have adversely affected its radar detectability
  • The bright deck lights on the fishing vessels obscured their navigation lights
  • The deckhand on watch on Jenabar at the time of the collision was not keeping an adequate or effective lookout and, as a result, only noticed the ship moments before the collision.

The report recommends that:

  • Ship owners, operators, managers and masters, fishing vessel owners, operators and skippers should ensure that the requirements for watchkeepers to keep a proper lookout, visually and by radar are understood and complied with
  • The National Marine Safety Committee (NMSC) and State and Territory marine authorities should review the minimum qualifications for watchkeepers on fishing vessels
  • The NMSC and State and Territory marine authorities should ensure that guidance on procedures for watchkeeping and safety of navigation applies to all vessels
  • Radar manufacturers' operating manuals should contain explicit instructions for setting up ARPAs for collision avoidance.


1 Miles refers to nautical miles. One nautical mile = 1852 metres.

Related Documents: | Media Release |

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 872KB]
General details
Date: 21 August 2003   Investigation status: Completed  
Location: 14 nm East of Diamond Head    
State: New South Wales    
Release date: 27 September 2004   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Vessel 1 details

Vessel 1 details
Vessel Lancelot  
Flag Malta  
IMO 8018089  
Type of operation Bulk carrier  
Damage to vessel Minor  
Departure point Kaohsiung, Taiwan  
Destination Newcastle  

Vessel 2 details

Vessel 2 details
Vessel Jenabar  
Flag Aus  
Type of operation Fishing vessel  
Damage to vessel Substantial  
Departure point Foster, NSW  
Destination off Port Macquarie  
Last update 19 May 2016