GROUNDING ON THE REEF | Chief officer’s fatigue under scrutiny


AN INQUIRY into a bulker’s grounding on the Great Barrier Reef is focusing today on why the coal carrier strayed 15km off course.

Informed sources said today the Australian Transport Safety Bureau is studying the work-sleep patterns of the chief officer, who was on the bridge when the Shenzhen Energy Transport vessel hit the reef on 3 April.

Records show that Shen Neng 1 spent nine days at anchor off Gladstone before berthing on the night of 2 April to load 65,000 tonnes of coal for China. It sailed at 1054 the next morning and grounded at about 1710. Yet authorities said they were not notified until two hours later, the sources said.

Shen Neng 1 had 975 tonnes of bunkers aboard, none of which has leaked in the past two days, but aircraft are on standby in case there are more spills. The weather forecast for the salvage remains favourable.

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