The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) released a final report on the grounding of the ship Pasha Bulker at Newcastle on 8 June 2007. This is a clearly written technical report into what happened and what to do to stop it happening again. Fortunately there was no loss of life. Perhaps similar independent reports should be prepared where there is any major incident which risks public safety, or large financial loss.
Bodies, such as the coroner's court only have jurisdiction where there is an actual death. Also physical injury may only play a small part in many incidents which could have a large and detrimental impact on the public. At present it is necessary to rely on an uncoordinated array of overlapping investigative agencies and ad-hoc inquiries. Major incidents may require a special public inquiry, but a government may be reluctant to launch an inquiry which may find them at fault. Something like a more general version of the ATSB, can carry out an independent investigation, would be useful.
ps: Perhaps some time could be saved by calling the public inquiry into the Sydney Nort West Metro Project now. This project is quite clearly a disaster in the making. ;-)
Marine Safety Investigation Report - Final
Independent investigation into the grounding of the Panamanian registered bulk carrier Pasha Bulker on Nobbys Beach, Newcastle, New South Wales on 8 June 2007
Occurrence Number: 243 Location: Nobbys Beach, Newcastle Occurrence Date: 08 June 2007 State: NSW Occurrence Time: 0951 (UTC +10) Highest Injury Level: None Occurrence Category: Incident Investigation Type: Occurrence Investigation Occurrence Class: Investigation Status: Completed Occurrence Type: Grounding Release Date: 23 May 2008
Vessel: Pasha Bulker Flag: Panam IMO: 9317729 Type of Operation: Bulk carrier Damage to Vessel: Substantial Departure Point: Newcastle anchorage Departure Time: 0748 local time Destination: To sea
On 23 May 2007, the Panamanian registered bulk carrier Pasha Bulker anchored 2.4 miles off the coast near Newcastle, New South Wales. The ship had sufficient water ballast on board for the good weather at the time, and was not expected to load its coal cargo for about three weeks.
At midday on 7 June, Pasha Bulker's master veered more anchor cable after a gale warning was issued. The weather deteriorated and shortly after midnight, the wind had reached gale force.
At 0500 on 8 June, the wind had increased to strong gale force and the weather was severe. At 0625, Pasha Bulker started to drag its anchor. The master decided to put to sea and at 0748, the anchor was aweigh. The ship was now 1.2 miles from the shore and, with the southeast wind fine on the starboard bow, it made good a north-easterly course. At 0906, the master altered the ship’s course to starboard to put the wind on the port bow in an attempt to make good a southerly course on a south-southeasterly heading. However, its heading became south-westerly and, with the wind on the port beam, the ship started to rapidly approach the coast.
At 0931, with Nobbys Beach 0.8 of a mile away, the master attempted a starboard turn. The manoeuvre did not succeed and at 0946, with grounding imminent, he requested assistance from authorities ashore. At 0951, Pasha Bulker grounded on Nobbys Beach and the ship's momentum carried it further onto the beach. The crew were evacuated by helicopter during the afternoon.
On 2 July, Pasha Bulker was successfully refloated. The ship was temporarily repaired in Newcastle and on 26 July, taken in tow to Vietnam to undergo permanent repairs.
The report identifies a number of safety issues and issues recommendations or safety advisory notices to address them.
Download complete report [4.6 MB PDF]
Marine Safety Recommendations
Safety Advisory Notices