MO-2021-203: Collision between fishing vessel ‘Commission’ and container ship ‘Kota Lembah,’ 84 nautical miles northeast of Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, NZ, 28 July 2021
NB: The below is a brief plain English summary of key points in the Commission's Final Report. The Final Report speaks for itself.
To download the Final Report on this inquiry, please visit www.taic.org.nz/inquiry/mo-2021-203
- Recommendations on three key safety issues: watchkeeping standards & practice; collision prevention rules; fatigue.
- Summary: At about 4am fishing vessel Commission (motoring) collided with the container vessel Kota Lembah (drifting awaiting port berth at Auckland). Damage to fishing vessel stabiliser and wheelhouse. Neither vessel’s hull was breached. Nobody hurt.
At about 4am on 28 July 2021, about 84 nautical miles northeast of Tauranga, Bay of Plenty coast, the fishing vessel Commission (F.V. Commission) collided with the stationary container vessel Kota Lembah. The F.V. Commission was motoring and the Kota Lembah was drifting (waiting for a berth at Port of Auckland).
The Kota Lembah suffered scraping along its hull near the bow and the F.V. Commission suffered damage to its stabiliser arm and wheelhouse. Neither vessel’s hull was breached and nobody was injured.
Fig.5 from the Report. Screenshot at point of collision (Sourced from Kota Lembah’s Voyage Data Recorder (VDR) and F.V. Commission’s GPS)
Why it happened
The key circumstances that led to this accident were poor watchkeeping, non-adherence to collision prevention rules (COLREGS) and fatigue.
- Watchkeeping and COLREGS: The watchkeeping standards on both vessels fell well short of good industry practice.
- On the F.V. Commission, the crew had detected the Kota Lembah on radar but they did not look out for it or plot it on radar. Nobody on watch at the time of the collision.
- On the Kota Lembah, the bridge team had seen and were plotting the F.V. Commission on radar. Collision prevention rules required the Kota Lembah to give way to the F.V. Commission, but it did not do so.
- Fatigue: It was about as likely as not that the F.V. Commission’s skipper was suffering from the effects of fatigue at the time.
TAIC has made three new recommendations – two to Oceanic Fishing Ltd (operator of the FV Commission), and one to Pacific International Lines (owners of the Kota Lembah):
- Watchkeeping: that Oceanic Fishing enhance its training system to upskill deckhands in watchkeeping to meet the minimum requirements of Maritime Rules Part 31. (Recommendation 002/22).
- Fatigue: that Oceanic Fishing emplace fatigue management policies, procedures, and compliance on their vessels. (Recommendation 003/22)
- Collision regulations: That Pacific International Lines tell its fleet staff about the findings and lessons of this report to its fleet and audit the navigational practices of its fleet for compliance with the COLREGS. (Recommendation 004/22)
An existing TAIC recommendation addresses the safety issue of training for good watchkeeping. Some owners of the New Zealand under-24-metre fishing fleet appear to be not fully adhering to the requirement for fishing deckhands to be sufficiently trained in watchkeeping.
- In May 2021 (final report for the collision of the Rose Harmony and Leila Jo), TAIC recommended that Maritime NZ review the adequacy of watchkeeping training programmes for unqualified deckhands to meet good industry practice and comply with Maritime Rules Part 31 (Recommendation 003/21). TAIC’s final report on the Kota Lembah - FV Commission collision details Maritime NZ’s positive response to this earlier recommendation.
What we can learn
- Adhering to the rules for preventing collisions at sea is the best defence against collision. When one vessel deviates from these rules, the risk of collision will be significantly higher. When two vessels deviate from them, a collision becomes almost inevitable.
- Fatigue adversely affects human performance and is known to contribute to accidents. Vessels must be resourced so that fatigue can be appropriately managed.
- Watchkeeping: Non-compliance with standards for achieving navigation safety is also known to contribute to accidents. Anyone involved in keeping a navigational watch needs to be knowledgeable about the collision prevention rules.