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At about 1817 on 23 February 2008, the Marshall Islands registered passenger ship Van Gogh grounded briefly on the western shore of the Mersey River during a departure from Devonport, Tasmania. The ship was under the conduct of a harbour pilot who had taken over the conduct from the master about five minutes before, after the master had manoeuvred the ship off the berth.

As the ship left the berth, it began to be set towards the bulk carrier Goliath berthed ahead. Van Gogh was under the influence of the ebb tide and fresh water that was flowing from the Mersey River's catchment following heavy rain in the area in the previous 24 hours.

Van Gogh was difficult to manoeuvre at low speed because of its twin propellers and single rudder configuration. This, combined with the strong ebb tide and fresh water outflow in the river at the time of departure, resulted in there being insufficient water flow over its rudder to enable the pilot to manoeuvre the ship as he intended. In addition, the master did not inform the pilot that the crew would be using the ship's engines independently during turns in the river. This resulted in the pilot being concerned that his orders were being countermanded because he saw that the engine telegraph levers were not as he had ordered.

Following the grounding, the pilot successfully manoeuvred the ship back into the channel and the ship departed the port without further incident. There was no damage to the ship and no pollution resulted.

The report identifies a number of safety issues and acknowledges the safety actions which have been taken by Club Cruise International and the Tasmanian Ports Corporation to address them.

Download Final Report
[ Download PDF: 1.56MB]
General details
Date: 23 February 2008 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1817   
Location   (show map):Devonport Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Tasmania Occurrence type: Grounding 
Release date: 07 November 2008  
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Incident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Vessel details
Vessel: Van Gogh 
Flag: Marshall Island 
IMO: 7359400 
Type of Operation: Passenger 
Damage to Vessel: Nil 
Departure point:Devonport, Tasmania
Departure time:23 February 2008
Destination:Fremantle, Western Australia
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Last update 14 November 2018