THE first mate in charge of the Shen Neng 1 when it crashed into Douglas Shoal had just two and a half hours of broken sleep in the 37 hours before the incident.
A preliminary report released today by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said the incident was the result of a “simple succession of errors on the part of a very tired crew member”.
The preliminary report was released yesterday after investigations by the ATSB, which interviewed crew members in the days after the grounding, and checked electronic data.
The initial report found after leaving the Port of Gladstone on April 3, the ship’s master and second mate decided to slightly alter the ship’sroute.
The ship had always planned to head to sea through the designated shipping channel between North West Island and Douglas Shoal. After marking the change, the crew did not change its “off-track” or course alteration “waypoint” alarms to fit the new course.
The second mate changed watch with the first mate at 4pm on April 3 and made him aware of the changes to the plan and the unaltered alarms.
ATSB chief commissioner Martin Dolan said at this stage the first mate had minimal sleep after being occupied in port.
“He was the one principally responsible for managing the loading in Gladstone so had a very busy time and seemed to have had about two and a half hours of broken sleep in the previous 37 hours,” he said.
The first mate decided to delay changing the charts or working out the distance to the next alteration point.
At around 4.30pm the chief engineer visited the ship’s bridge to check the main engine progress, and the first mate decided to fix the ship’s position at 5pm.
At 5pm he checked the position co-ordinates and upon comparing with the chart, realised the ship was close to Douglas Shoal.
The first mate attempted to change course at the last minute, but was unable to stop the ship from grounding at a speed of 12 knots.
An investigation by the ATSB will continue.
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