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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) Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
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: 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: 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
 
Injuries
 CrewPassengerGroundTotal
Fatal: 1304
Total:1304

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Last update 19 May 2016