Marine safety investigations & reports

Collision between Accolade II and Sandgroper off Port Adelaide, South Australia, on 29 February 2020

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


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[Download  PDF: 2.43MB]

What happened

At about 0438 local time on 29 February 2020, in darkness and clear visibility, the inbound fishing vessel Sandgroper collided with the outbound self-discharging bulk carrier Accolade II, off the entrance to Port Adelaide, South Australia. The collision occurred within port limits shortly after Accolade II had exited the Port Adelaide channel and resulted in significant structural damage to Sandgroper and minor damage to Accolade II. There were no injuries reported on either vessel.

What the ATSB found

The ATSB found that a proper lookout using all available means was not being maintained on board either vessel in the time leading up to the collision. Consequently, neither vessel was aware of the risk of the collision posed by the other until shortly before the collision when it was too late to take effective avoiding action.

Accolade II’s bridge team did not have a complete appreciation of the traffic situation and of the risk of collision outside the port channel before the ship exited the channel. In particular, effective use was not made of radar and a dedicated look-out was not posted in darkness.

Sandgroper’s skipper initially sighted Accolade II while the ship was still in the channel. However, a proper look-out was not subsequently maintained using all available means, including radar and radio. As a result, Sandgroper's skipper was not aware that Accolade II had exited the port channel and a close quarters situation with the ship was developing. While Sandgroper was not equipped with, nor required to be equipped with, an automatic identification system (AIS) transceiver, had one been fitted, it would have improved the vessel's detectability. That in turn would have increased the chances that the vessel was detected by Accolade II’s bridge team in sufficient time to avoid collision.

What has been done as a result

Following this incident Sandgroper was fitted with an AIS transceiver.

Accolade II’s managers (Inco Ships) advised that a navigational audit of the ship’s operations was conducted, which resulted in several recommendations to improve the ship’s bridge resource management practices.

Safety message

The safety of fishers and people in small boats continues to be of concern to the ATSB as collisions between trading ships and small vessels on the Australian coast continue to occur. Safety investigations into such collisions have consistently shown that the keeping of a proper lookout by all available means, including radar, radio and AIS, in accordance with the collision regulations could have prevented most of these collisions.

Download Final report
[Download  PDF: 2.43MB]

The occurrence


Safety analysis


Safety actions

Sources and submissions


About the ATSB


The ATSB is investigating a collision between the bulk carrier Accolade II and fishing vessel Sandgroper off Port Adelaide on 29 February 2020.

The collision occurred in the vicinity of beacon 13 of Port Adelaide channel at about 0435. Accolade II sustained minor damage while Sandgroper sustained damage to the starboard bow and stabiliser. There were no reported injuries or pollution from either vessel.

As part of the investigation, the ATSB will interview relevant persons and obtain other evidence, including recorded data.

Should any safety critical information be discovered at any time during the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify operators and regulators so appropriate and timely safety action can be taken.

A final report will be published at the conclusion of the investigation.

General details
Date: 29 February 2020   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0438 CDT   Investigation level: Defined - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Off Port Adelaide   Investigation phase: Final report: Dissemination  
State: South Australia    
Release date: 29 October 2021   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: None  

Vessel 1 details

Vessel 1 details
Operator Inco Ships  
Vessel Accolade II  
Flag Australia  
IMO 8012425  
Sector Tanker  
Type of operation Cargo  
Damage to vessel Minor  
Departure point Port Adelaide , South Australia  
Destination Klein Point, South Australia  

Vessel 2 details

Vessel 2 details
Operator Southern Fisheries Group  
Vessel Sandgroper  
Flag Australia  
Sector Commercial fishing  
Type of operation Fishing  
Damage to vessel Substantial  
Departure point Port Adelaide, South Australia  
Destination Port Adelaide, South Australia  
Last update 28 October 2021