Australia has released a report following an investigation into the collision between the containership Beijing Bridge and fishing vessel Saxon Onward on January 23, 2018, off Gabo Island, Victoria.
The vessels had been aware of each other’s presence well before the collision took place. About 45 minutes before the collision, Saxon Onward’s watchkeeper had sighted the masthead lights and green sidelight of an approaching Beijing Bridge on the starboard bow.
Meanwhile, the third officer of Beijing Bridge was the officer of the watch and the sole lookout on that vessel’s navigational bridge. He had seen Saxon Onward, along with another fishing vessel, and both vessels were acquired on Beijing Bridge’s radar.
The incident occurred as Saxon Onward was bound for Eden, New South Wales while Beijing Bridge was en route to Melbourne, Victoria from Taiwan.
As the two vessels closed on each other, they both realised that risk of collision existed and both took action. Beijing Bridge’s course alteration was not substantial, not made in good time, and actually increased the risk of a collision.
Saxon Onward made a substantial course alteration, but it was made too late and resulted in the collision.
Saxon Onward collided with Beijing Bridge, with the trawler’s port bow impacting the ship’s starboard side. As the trawler scraped down the ship’s side, the skipper stopped the engine and the crew mustered in the wheelhouse.
As a result of the collision, Beijing Bridge’s management company, V.Ships (Germany), have advised masters and bridge watchkeeping personnel to review compliance with the COLREGs and the ship’s SMS. The company also mandated that passage plan tracks were to be laid at least 10 NM from the shoreline where possible.
Furthermore, Saxon Onward’s master has implemented a policy of maintaining two watchkeepers on duty in the wheelhouse when transiting through high traffic density areas.