Marine safety investigations & reports

Collision between the boat Norma Jean and the barge Seatow 61 off Carnarvon, WA, 18 March 2007

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 2.21MB]

What happened

At about 0610 on 18 March 2007, in near total darkness, the recreational fishing boat Norma Jean departed the Carnarvon boat harbour. About 15 minutes later, Norma Jean collided with Seatow 61, a barge that was anchored off the port. Norma Jean sank almost immediately and all four of its occupants died as a result of the collision.

The ATSB initiated a safety investigation into the collision and, in May 2008, the ATSB’s final investigation report (Marine Occurrence Investigation Report No. 237) was released.

In 2010, a coronial inquest into the deaths of the four persons on board Norma Jean was held in Carnarvon. During the inquest, evidence that was not provided to the ATSB at the time of the initial investigation was put before the Coroner.

As a result of this information, the ATSB re-opened its investigation into the accident for the purpose of correcting the public record that was contained in the initial safety investigation report. This report is the result of the re-opened investigation and examines all of the available evidence, including that provided at the time of the coronial inquest.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that Seatow 61’s navigation lights were probably not illuminated at the time of the collision. Furthermore, the intended use of only the barge’s navigation lights, not supplemented by illuminating its deck flood lights had not appropriately taken into account its location outside the harbour and the recreational boating activities in the area.

The investigation also determined that Norma Jean’s skipper did not identify the barge in time to avoid the collision and that the boat’s occupants were not wearing personal flotation devices.

What has been done as a result

The operators of Sea-Tow 61 have applied luminous ‘GlowMax’ paint in strips on all their barges and fitted them with bulwark mounted solar powered lights. They have also added a ‘Barge Anchoring Procedure’ and ‘Barge Anchoring Flow Chart’ to their safety management system.

The Western Australia Department of Transport has reviewed its operational procedures as a result of this accident, operational experience and ongoing auditing processes.

Safety message

All seafarers should take appropriate action to ensure that their anchored vessels are clearly identifiable at night. Such action should, at times, include the use of lighting that is above the minimum required by the collision regulations.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 2.21MB]
General details
Date: 18 March 2007   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0630 (UTC + 9 hours)    
Location   (show map): Off Carnarvon    
State: Western Australia    
Release date: 03 October 2013   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Vessel 1 details

Vessel 1 details
Vessel Sea-Tow 61  
Flag NZ  
IMO na  
Type of operation Barge  
Damage to vessel Nil  
Departure point At anchor off Carnarvon, WA  
Departure time na  
Destination na  

Vessel 2 details

Vessel 2 details
Vessel Norma Jean  
Flag Aus  
IMO 35539  
Type of operation Private cabin cruiser  
Damage to vessel Destroyed  
Departure point Carnarvon, Western Australia  
Departure time 0600  
Destination Carnarvon, Western Australia  
  Crew Passenger Ground Total
Fatal: 1 3 0 4
Total: 1 3 0 4
Last update 19 May 2016