AN INCIDENT in April last year where a livestock carrier struck a wharf at Broome, Western Australia, highlights the importance of sharing knowledge, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau says.

According to the bureau, the harbour master and the pilot of the vessel Angus Express were unaware of fender height limitations.

On 20 April 2018, the Angus Express had just finished a voyage from Singapore and was set to load cattle. As the vessel came into berth, the weight of the ship against the forward Yokohama fender (a bumper) forced it to pass under the fender posts.

This resulted in the ship’s bow moving towards the wharf and, soon after, part of an overhanging scupper made contact with the fender post.

According to the bureau, the pilot thought the ship had pivoted on the Yokohama fender and instructed the tug to push forward again. This resulted in the forward Yokohama fender once again passing underneath the fender posts.

The harbour master subsequently found minor damage to the ship’s superstructure.


The ATSB investigation found those fender posts were shorter than others in the port and at certain tide heights could be forced down by a ship. A former pilot at the port advised they had been aware of this, but that knowledge never had been documented or shared.

The Kimberley Ports Authority has subsequently implemented guidelines for berthing and being alongside when using Yokohama-style fenders during times of low water levels.

Harbour masters and pilots are to conduct risk assessments for circumstances such as tug shortages, vessel manoeuvring issues and tidal levels.

“The safety message from the accident is the importance of capturing and sharing lessons learned from experience,” the bureau reported. “Marine pilots, in particular, may encounter operational parameters outside normal limits. Capturing the lessons through proper reporting process and sharing information through training and awareness can help to reduce risk and avoid future occurrences.”