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Preliminary report published: 27 April 2017

The information contained in this Preliminary report is released in accordance with section 25 of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 and is derived from the initial investigation of the occurrence. Readers are cautioned that new evidence will become available as the investigation progresses that will enhance the ATSB's understanding of the occurrence as outlined in this Preliminary report. As such, no analysis or findings are included in this report.

What happened

On 9 February 2017, the passenger cruise ship Norwegian Star departed Melbourne, Australia, on a scheduled cruise to Dunedin, New Zealand. There were 2113 passengers and 1017 crew on board. On departure, the starboard propulsion unit (Azipod[1]) was operational and the port Azipod was under repair.

At about 0134 on 10 February, the vessel was about 18 nautical miles south-west of Cape Liptrap, Victoria, when the starboard Azipod failed. Propulsion power could not be restored and two tugs were deployed from Melbourne to tow Norwegian Star back to Melbourne. The vessel arrived back without further incident at about midnight on 11 February 2017.

What the ATSB has found so far

Based on the preliminary information, the ATSB found that the Norwegian Star experienced three separate propulsion unit failures over a period of about nine weeks. In each case, the field exciter unit for the main propulsion motor failed. The first two failures (the starboard unit in December and the port unit in January) involved a breakdown of electrical insulation and the third failure (on 10 February 2017) related to a modification made to the starboard Azipod exciter unit during its earlier repair.


  1. Azipod is the registered trademark of ABB Oy (Finland).
Download preliminary report
[ Download PDF: 524KB]

The occurrence


Investigation direction

Sources and submissions

General details
Date: 10 February 2017 Investigation status: Active 
Time: 0134 LT (AEST = UTC +11) Investigation phase: Final report: External review 
Location   (show map):Bass Strait Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Victoria  
Release date: 27 April 2017  
Report status: Preliminary Occurrence category: Serious Incident 
Expected completion: 2nd Quarter 2018 Highest injury level: None 
Vessel details
Operator: Norwegian Cruise Line, Bahamas 
Vessel: Norwegian Star 
Flag: Bahamas 
IMO: 9195157 
Sector: Passenger 
Type of Operation: Passenger/Cruise 
Damage to Vessel: Unknown 
Departure point:Melbourne, Victoria
Destination:Dunedin, New Zealand
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Last update 17 May 2018