Marine safety investigations & reports

Independent investigation into the rupture of a submarine gas pipeline by the Hong Kong registered container ship APL Sydney in Port Phillip, Victoria on 13 December 2008

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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[Download  PDF: 3.04MB]

At 1428 on 13 December 2008, the Hong Kong registered container ship APL Sydney's starboard anchor was let go in Melbourne anchorage. Four minutes later, the pilot left the bridge and by 1436, he had disembarked the ship. The 35 knot south-southwest wind was gusting to 48 knots. A submarine gas pipeline lay 6 cables (1.1 km) downwind.

By 1501, after dragging its anchor, the ship was outside the anchorage boundary. The master advised harbour control he intended to weigh anchor and was instructed to maintain position and wait for a pilot. At 1527, when weighing anchor was started after receiving permission from harbour control, the ship was within 50 m of the pipeline. While weighing anchor, the anchor dragged across the pipeline, snagged it at about 1544 and, subsequently, the anchor windlass failed.

At 1603, the pilot returned to the ship and, after discussions with the master and harbour control, he decided to dredge the anchor clear. At 1621, less than 1 minute after APL Sydney's main engine was run ahead, the pipeline ruptured. There were no injuries and the pipeline was isolated.

The investigation found that the rupture was the result of attempting to dredge the anchor instead of slipping it. The anchor had also been let go too close to the pipeline in the poor weather conditions. The report identifies safety issues in relation to: the port's risk management with respect to the pipeline and anchorage boundaries and its shipping control procedures; the ship's safety management system with respect to passage planning, the master's authority, crew familiarisation and the working language; the pilotage company's procedures for anchoring and mobile telephone use; and the windlass failure. Safety actions to address all the issues have been taken or proposed by the relevant parties.

Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 3.04MB]
General details
Date: 13 December 2008   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1621 (UTC +11)   Investigation level: Complex - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Port Phillip    
State: Victoria    
Release date: 27 April 2010   Occurrence category: Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Vessel details

Vessel details
Vessel APL Sydney  
Flag Hong Kong SAR China  
IMO 9328493  
Type of operation Container ship  
Damage to vessel Minor  
Departure point Hong Kong  
Departure time 3 December  
Destination Melbourne, Victoria  
Last update 14 November 2018