Marine safety investigations & reports

Independent investigation into the near collision between the bulk carrier Ormiston and the roll-on/roll-off general cargo ship Searoad Mersey in Port Phillip, Victoria on 16 May 2007

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 1.91MB]

At about 0230 on 16 May 2007, the bulk carrier Ormiston sailed from Melbourne, Victoria, bound for Thevenard, South Australia. At about 0512, the ship rounded the Hovell Pile beacon and entered the South Channel in Port Phillip. At about 0521, Ormiston entered 'The Cut', the narrowest part of the channel, from the east making good about 15 knots.

At about 0230, the second mate on board the roll-on/roll-off general cargo ship Searoad Mersey contacted Point Lonsdale vessel traffic service (VTS) to provide an estimated time of arrival at the entrance to Port Phillip and was advised of the traffic movements within the port. At about 0420, Searoad Mersey's master, who also held a pilotage exemption for Port Phillip and had conducted over 1300 transits of the port, contacted VTS and received updated traffic information, including Ormiston's estimated movements.

At about 0435, Searoad Mersey passed Point Lonsdale lighthouse and entered Port Phillip. At about 0521, when the ship entered 'The Cut' from the west making good about 15 knots, the master had forgotten that Ormiston was approaching and did not see the approaching ship until immediately before the two ships passed. At about 0523, Searoad Mersey and Ormiston passed within 20 metres of each other in 'The Cut' at a combined speed of about 30 knots.

The ATSB investigation found that Searoad Mersey's bridge team members had not effectively implemented bridge resource management principles, were not keeping an adequate lookout and had lost situational awareness. The investigation also found that the ships did not communicate with each other until after the incident and that the Point Lonsdale VTS was not aware of the incident until after it had occurred.

The ATSB has issued four recommendations and one safety advisory notice to address the safety issues identified in the report.

Marine Recommendations

[ MR20080026 ] [ MR20080027 ] [ MR20080028 ] [ MR20080029 ]

Marine Safety Advisory Notices

[ MS20080026 ]

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 1.91MB]
General details
Date: 16 May 2007   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0530 (UTC+ 10 Hours)    
Location: South Channel Port Phillip Bay    
State: Victoria    
Release date: 23 July 2008   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Vessel 1 details

Vessel 1 details
Vessel Searoad Mersey  
Flag Aust  
IMO 8914831  
Type of operation RO-RO  
Damage to vessel Nil  
Departure point Devonport  
Destination Melbourne  

Vessel 2 details

Vessel 2 details
Vessel Ormiston  
Flag Aust  
IMO 7806661  
Type of operation Bulk carrier  
Damage to vessel Nil  
Departure point Melbourne  
Destination Thevenard  
Last update 23 May 2016