Preliminary report released 21 October 2014

What happened

On the afternoon of 17 August 2014, the Grand Pioneer and AAL Fremantle were berthed, stern to stern at North Quay berths 11 and 12 respectively, in the port of Fremantle.

At about 2200, while both ships were discharging cargo, a storm front passed over Fremantle bringing with it a rapid increase in wind speed and gusting to about 55 knots. Both ships' sterns broke away from the berth and they swung bow to the wind. AAL Fremantle’s starboard side subsequently made contact with the Parmelia I and the Fremantle Rail Bridge.

The Parmelia I, Grand Pioneer and AAL Fremantle suffered minor damage.

A stanchion supporting the catenary wire for the 25 kV AC electrified train network on the rail bridge was destroyed along with large sections of temporary scaffolding along the side of and under the bridge. The track alignment was also disturbed. The bridge was closed to rail traffic until repairs could be undertaken and the bridge deemed safe.

By about 0300 both ships were safely berthed.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB’s initial analysis of the incident indicates that a bollard, with all of AAL Fremantle’s and two of Grand Pioneer’s five stern lines, failed. This allowed the stern of AAL Fremantle to swing to starboard. The loss of the stern lines increased the tension on Grand Pioneer’s remaining stern lines, which were not able to hold. Grand Pioneer’s stern then swung to port.

Investigation direction

The investigation is ongoing and will focus on the:

  • bollard failure mechanism
  • preparedness of the ships leading up to the incident
  • port authority procedures to avoid weather related incidents
  • effect of weather on water levels in the port and the movement of ships
  • risk analysis and management in relation to relevant marine and rail infrastructure
  • risk management and emergency response between relevant agencies.