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At 0535 on 15 April 2005, the Greek registered bulk carrier Spartia collided with the Australian rock lobster fishing vessel Hannah Lee, 17 nautical miles off Cape Bouvard, in position 32 43.8'S, 115 16.9'E, on Western Australia’s south-west coast. Spartia was in ballast and making for the port of Bunbury to load alumina. Hannah Lee had departed the small port of Mandurah at 0345 to work it’s rock lobster pots located approximately 37 nautical miles south-west of the port.

Hannah Lee’s skipper failed to observe Spartia in the time leading up to the collision as he was preoccupied with keeping his vessel on course. The bridge team on Spartia had identified the fishing vessel about 20 minutes prior to the collision. They had assessed that a risk of collision existed but, as Hannah Lee was on their port side, they maintained the vessel's course and speed, in accordance with the international collision regulations. When it became obvious to the bridge team that Hannah Lee was not going to give way, the master ordered avoiding action, consisting of a change in course and turn to starboard.

This action was ineffective in preventing the collision and Hannah Lee impacted Spartia’s port side, in way of number six hold a short time later. No one was injured in the collision and no pollution resulted.

After the collision, Spartia continued its voyage to Bunbury, where it anchored at 0900. Hannah Lee made for the port of Fremantle where it berthed at a repair yard at about 0910.

The report concludes that:

  • The visual lookout being maintained on board Hannah Lee was inadequate, ineffective and in the minutes prior to the collision, non-existent.
  • The VHF on board Hannah Lee was not tuned to the internationally accepted distress and calling frequency, channel 16.
  • Engine noise emanating from the rear of the wheelhouse prevented Hannah Lee’s skipper hearing any sound signal from Spartia’s forward whistle.
  • A non-operational radar prevented Hannah Lee’s skipper from detecting Spartia by this means in the time leading up to the collision.
  • Hannah Lee’s skipper did not have the required knowledge of the COLREGS and his obligations under them.
  • It is probable that Hannah Lee’s skipper’s judgement, actions and situational awareness were affected by fatigue as a result of his work routine and waking time activities over the previous week.
  • The decision by Spartia’s master to take avoiding action when Hannah Lee was one nautical mile away was too little and made too late.

It is also considered that:

  • VHF recordings from the Fremantle Port Authority indicate that it is probable that Spartia’s bridge team did not attempt to use VHF channel 16 to alert Hannah Lee to the presence of the ship in the period of time leading up to the collision, despite their claims to the contrary.
  • Both vessels should have stopped and established contact as soon as possible after the collision.

The report recommends that:

  • All State and Territory registered commercial vessels operating offshore should be required to carry an operational VHF radio which is capable of maintaining a continuous watch on channel 16 (156.8 MHz) and, if required for vessel operations, another channel.
  • Skippers of commercial State and Territory registered vessels should ensure that they have a full understanding of the COLREGS and their obligation under those regulations, with particular regard to keeping a lookout and actions to avoid a collision.
  • State and Territory marine regulatory authorities should consider amending their policy and regulations with regard to perpetual certificates of competency with a view to implementing a revalidation process consistent with the requirements of the National Standard for Commercial Vessels.
  • State and Territory marine regulatory authorities, through the National Marine Safety Committee, and in consultation with the Australian Seafood Industry Council, should ensure the safety and welfare of fishing vessel crews by reviewing work practices on Australian fishing vessels with a view to establishing guidelines for the management of crew fatigue.
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General details
Date: 15 April 2005 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 0535  
Location:Off South-West Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Western Australia Occurrence type: Collision 
Release date: 21 September 2005  
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
 
Vessel 1 details
Vessel: Spartia 
Flag: Greek 
IMO: 9217644 
Type of Operation: Bulk carrier 
Damage to Vessel: Minor 
Departure point:Kyangyang, Republic of Korea
Departure time:N/A
Destination:Bunbury
Vessel 2 details
Vessel: Hannah Lee 
Flag: Aus 
IMO: N/A 
Type of Operation: Rock lobster fishing vessel 
Damage to Vessel: Minor 
Departure point:Mandurah boat harbour
Departure time:0345EST
Destination:37 nautical miles south-west of Mandurah

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Last update 19 May 2016