THE crash that sank the tuna boat Apollo S at Port Lincoln’s main wharf in October 2010 was caused by a failure to reverse the main engine in time, an investigation has found.
The bulk carrier Grand Rodosi hit the Apollo while berthing at about 2.50pm on October 8, crushing it against the wharf and sinking it, while the Rodosi sustained only relatively small holes in its bow shell plating.
An Australian Transport Safety Bureau report released last week has found the Grand Rodosi’s chief engineer was running the main engine in the wrong direction in the lead up to the crash, despite pilot orders to run it astern.
“The chief engineer, who was operating the main engine start/fuel lever in the engine room control room, did not allow sufficient time for starting air to stop the ahead running engine,” the report said.
“Consequently, when fuel was introduced into the engine, it continued to run ahead, despite the astern telegraph orders.”
The investigation found the chief engineer’s mistake was not identified by anyone on the ship’s bridge or in the engine room control room until after the crash.
The investigation also found communication between the ship’s master and the pilot was less than optimal; and that bridge resource management principles could have been better applied.
The bureau said the report included important safety messages for pilots and ships’ crews.
“It is of paramount importance that pilots and ships’ crews maintain awareness of main engine movements and check engine tachometers following every movement to ensure that the engine is operating in the desired direction,” the report said.
“This is particularly important when main engines are being operated in manual control.”
It also recommended pilots and bridge teams exchange information such as courses and speeds at critical positions, at the beginning of the pilotage.
Following the incident, the ship’s managers Newlead Bulkers changed on board procedures to ensure crew monitor the direction of main engine turning after each engine order.
Flinders Ports has revised its risk assessment for the manoeuvre undertaken during Grand Rodosi’s berthing; and its pilotage passage plan to include indicative courses and speed zones to ensure visiting ships are better informed about the passage their ship is about to undertake.
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