Marine safety investigations & reports

Crew member fatality on board passenger vessel Pacific Sun

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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On 5 February 2006, Pacific Sun berthed at number eight wharf Darling Harbour, Sydney. The weather was fine with little wind. The twelve to four quartermaster was assigned to clean rust streaks from the outside of the port bridge wing windows. At 1205 the senior second officer checked the safety harness and completed a work permit, as required by the working aloft procedure, but no workplace risk assessment was used in planning the job.

The quartermaster, wearing the safety harness, then started work on a catwalk outside the port bridge wing. At about 1249 he fell approximately 24 metres onto the wharf below. He died as a result of the injuries sustained from the fall. He was an experienced seaman who had been inducted in the ship's safety management system and had done this task many times.

The ATSB's investigation report concludes that the quartermaster's harness was not properly attached to the grab rail when he probably lost his footing and fell. The contributing factors to the incident include an inadequate safety harness, the design of the catwalk, an inadequate workplace risk assessment and procedures, the ineffective use of personal protective equipment and that the quartermaster may have been distracted from the task at the time by non-work related issues. There was no evidence to support a suggestion that he may have committed suicide.

The ATSB has made several safety recommendations with the aim of preventing further incidents of this type.

Media Release

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 1.16MB]
General details
Date: 05 February 2006   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1250 (UTC+11)    
Location: Darling Harbour, Sydney    
State: New South Wales    
Release date: 22 December 2006   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Vessel details

Vessel details
Vessel Pacific Sun  
Flag Bah  
IMO 8314122  
Type of operation Passenger  
Damage to vessel Nil  
Departure point New Caledonia  
Departure time N/A  
Destination Sydney  
Last update 19 May 2016