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Precis File
source ATSB
type D

As usual, the ATSB had generated a thorough, detailed description of the casualty.

This was a 76,781 dwt ship with a 9230 KW MAN 7S50MC-C.

source CTX
type C
dead 0

9 month old bulk carrier was anchored 2.4 miles off Newcastle waiting to be loaded. She was in normal ballast condition. Despite being on a lee shore, the Master was very slow to weigh anchor in deteriorating conditions on 2007-06-08. At 0625, with the winds gusting to 45 knots from the SE, the anchor started to drag. The Master decided to get underway. By 0748, the anchor was up, but by this time they were within 1.2 miles of the shore, moving very slowly to the NE with the wind on the starboard bow. The Master decide to put the wind on the port bow. When the bow of the vessel went through the wind, the ship just kept turning despite full opposite rudder and full power. At 0951 she ended up stranding well up on Nobby's Beach.

The Australians correctly fault the Master for being far too slow to weigh anchor. It seems that some Masters thought they needed permission or were waiting for orders from shore.

They also fault him for failing to put additional ballast in a cargo hold. The ship was in her normal ballast condition (22,000 tons) with a draft of 4.85 m forward and 7.10 m aft. (The propeller tip is fully immersed at 7.17 m aft.) During the two hour struggle between the time she weighed anchor and the time she grounded, propeller RPM fluctuated considerably mainly due to varying immersion. At one point the engine tripped on overspeed, but power was quickly restored. Given the fact that they almost made it, more ballast could have made the difference.

But the fact remains modern, single screw bulk carrier (and tankers) have very poor low speed manueverability, as this casualty demonstrates. The ATSB report takes this for granted. Nor do they mention the obvious solution: twin screw.

The ATSB report talks about winds gusting up to 55 knots. But the Nobbys Head VTIC wind measurements (Figure 4 of the report) only very briefy got slightly above 40 knots between 0600 and 0730 (about when the anchor dragged) and was between 35 and 40 knots during the period that the Pasha Bulker was attempting to get offshore.