Marine safety investigations & reports

Collision between the container ship Glasgow Express and the fishing vessel Mako, off Cape Woolamai, Bass Strait, Victoria, on 12 August 2017

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed
Phase: Final report: Dissemination Read more information on this investigation phase

Final Report

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What happened

At 2000 on 12 August 2017, the fishing vessel Mako departed San Remo, Victoria, bound for fishing grounds about 3 hours away. Once clear of Cape Woolamai, Mako maintained a steady course (210°) and speed to the south-west. At the same time, the container ship Glasgow Express was passing Cape Liptrap heading north-west. The ship was bound for Melbourne, Victoria, and was maintaining a steady course (299°) and speed. From about 2030 the vessels were on a collision course.

No avoiding action was taken by either vessel and, at about 2246, they collided.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that a proper lookout by ‘all available means’ was not being maintained on either vessel.

Glasgow Express’s bridge team saw and monitored Mako visually from about 2200. However, a full appraisal of the situation using other instruments or means available on the bridge (such as radar) was not done. As a consequence, the situation was misinterpreted and the risk of collision was not identified. Therefore, no avoiding action was taken.

Prior to handing over the watch at 2230, Mako’s watchkeeper identified Glasgow Express by radar and visually. However, the information was misinterpreted and it was concluded that the Glasgow Express was passing clear, ahead of the fishing boat, and no avoiding action was taken. Then, after taking the watch, Mako’s second watchkeeper did not see the Glasgow Express until moments before the collision.

In addition, Mako was under way with all external lights on. This made the vessel more easily seen, but reduced the ability for Glasgow Express’s bridge team to accurately visually appraise the situation. The bright lights also reduced Mako’s watchkeeper’s night vision and ability to distinguish features beyond the glare of the lights.

The ATSB also noted that Mako, similar to other fishing vessels of this design, had a large fishing net winch drum mounted on deck forward of the wheelhouse. This winch drum restricts forward vision and may limit the ability to maintain a proper lookout unless accounted for in on-board procedures and training.

What's been done as a result

Glasgow Express’s operator undertook a fleet-wide information and education program which outlined the incident and emphasised the need to use all available means to maintain safe navigation in accordance with the collision regulations.

Safety message

The ATSB continues to see collisions between trading ships and small vessels. A common contributing factor has been the failure to use all available means to accurately appraise a situation and the risk of collision.

The ATSB reinforces to masters, owners, operators and skippers of all vessels the importance of a proper lookout by all available means including radar. Proper use of radar equipment including long range scanning and radar plotting allows for early detection, assessment and warning of vessels posing a risk of collision. This allows the watchkeeper sufficient time to take early and considered action to avoid collision in accordance with the International regulations for preventing collisions at sea, 1972 (as amended) (COLREGs).

Download final report
[Download  PDF: 2.13MB]

The occurrence

Safety analysis


Safety actions

Sources and submissions

General details
Date: 12 August 2017   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 2246 AEST = UTC +10   Investigation level: Defined - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): About 15 NM south of Cape Woolamai in the Bass Strait   Investigation phase: Final report: Dissemination  
State: Victoria    
Release date: 13 June 2018   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Vessel 1 details

Vessel 1 details
Operator Hapag-Lloyd, Germany  
Vessel Glasgow Express  
Flag Germany  
IMO 9232589  
Sector Container  
Type of operation Container ship  
Damage to vessel Unknown  
Departure point Sydney, NSW  
Destination Melbourne, Vic.  

Vessel 2 details

Vessel 2 details
Operator Unknown  
Vessel Mako  
Flag Victoria registered  
Sector Commercial fishing  
Type of operation Fishing vessel  
Damage to vessel Substantial  
Departure point San Remo, Victoria  
Destination San Remo, Victoria  
Last update 14 November 2018