The Shen Yeng 1 aground on Douglas Shoal and leaking oil. The ship was towed to a position off Great Keppel Island to be unloaded.
The Shen Yeng 1 aground on Douglas Shoal and leaking oil. The ship was towed to a position off Great Keppel Island to be unloaded. Queensland Government

Watchkeeper asleep at post

THE grounding of the Chinese bulk carrier Shen Neng 1 on pristine reef at Douglas Shoal off Rockhampton 12 months ago has important lessons for all seagoing vessels, says a report into the incident.

The ship spilled tonnes of oil when it was holed as a result of ploughing into the reef at full speed on April 3, hours after leaving Gladstone.

In the final report published yesterday by Australian Transport Safety Bureau chief commissioner Martin Dolan, the grounding was blamed on “watchkeeper fatigue”.

The report found that the ship did not have an effective fatigue management system in place to ensure that the bridge watchkeeper – in this case the chief mate – was fit to stand a navigational watch.

“Fatigue is one of the key safety risks facing seafarers and watchkeepers in particular,” said Mr Dolan.

“Failure to manage fatigue can lead to loss of life, damage to property and damage to the environment.”

The bureau urges ship operators to comply with international requirements that insure operators properly manage the hours of work and rest.

The report also found that the Shen Yeng 1's safety management system did not contain guidance in relation to the proper use of passage plans, including electronic routes.

At the time of the grounding, the protections afforded by the requirement for compulsory pilots and active monitoring of ships were not in place in the sea area off the CQ coast.

Douglas Shoal, 75km from Rockhampton, could take decades to recover from the impact.



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