Fatigue was a major contributing factor to the longline fishing vessel Ocean Odyssey collision with the side of the container ship P&O Nedlloyd Taranaki. The ship was drifting while assessing its engine problem when the fishing boat ran into it, according to an ATSB investigation report released today.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau report states that the N.S.W registered Ocean Odyssey collided with the port side of the container ship at about 0244 local time on 29 June 2004 near the entrance to Port Botany, after the boat's skipper had fallen asleep on watch. The boat was returning from its fishing grounds off the N.S.W coast at the time and was on autopilot. The container ship had had a main engine breakdown prior to the incident and was unable to get out of the way of the approaching fishing vessel.

A local port pilot had just boarded the container ship which was preparing to enter port when the engine breakdown occurred. The crew on the bridge of the ship had illuminated the ship and switched on the correct signal lights after the breakdown. As they watched the fishing vessel approach, they sounded the ship's whistle in an attempt to alert the fishing vessel to the impending collision but were powerless to prevent the boat from running into the ship's side.

After the collision, the pilot requested that the pilot boat meet with the fishing boat to ensure that its crew were safe. The fishing boat then returned to its berth at the Sydney Fish markets where an investigation into the collision was initiated.

The report concludes that the skipper was fatigued at the time of the collision due to his work schedule and that his wheelhouse environment at the time was conducive to sleep.

Neither vessel used their VHF radio before or after the collision.

Copies of the report ( Marine Safety Investigation Report 203)can be downloaded from the ATSB website.

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Last update 01 April 2011