ATSB opens investigation into April grounding of Hagen Oldendorff

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has commenced an investigation into the grounding of bulk carrier Hagen Oldendorff (IMO 9870355) in Port Hedland, Western Australia, on April 9th 2022.

At 01:40 WST that day the ship was outbound in the channel when it was reported to have had an issue with its steering. This was said to be due to faulty rudder indicators in its wheelhouse. The pilot conducting the ship called nearby tugs to assist before taking the vessel to an anchorage outside the port. The vessel was subsequently reported to be taking water into two ballast tanks.

ATSB said that late in July and August it had been provided additional information that indicated that the ship had grounded on the western side of the channel and had moved along the edge of the channel for several hundred metres. After obtaining further information from the port authority and the pilot company, the ATSB decided to investigate the incident.

As part of the investigation the ATSB will examine the circumstances leading to the grounding and determine contributing factors, including any safety issues. The investigation will include interviewing the pilot and other relevant persons, analyzing recorded data for the incident and examining relevant records and documents.

ATSB said that “should a critical safety issue be identified at any time during the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify operators and regulators so appropriate and timely safety action can be taken”. A final report will be published at the conclusion of the investigation. The ATSB’s investigation is expected to be completed by Q3 2023.

“We’re certainly aware of the significance of Port Hedland, not only to Western Australia but the entire Australian economy,” ATSB’s CEO Angus Mitchell said, adding that “some of the new information that came to light led us to believe that potentially there is some benefit to us having a look more deeply at what’s occurred. Most importantly, whether there any safety factors or any safety issues that we can identify to make sure that something like this doesn’t occur again.”

The loaded vessel was understood to have remained at anchorage off the coast of Port Hedland for more than one month.

Mitchell said that it was not uncommon for investigations to begin months after an incident, depending on the supply of information.

“We can choose to pick up an investigation if new and significant information comes to light after the incident that really leads us to believe that there is something for us to uncover, and there’s potentially improvements to be made,” he said.

Pilbara Ports Authority did not comment on the launch of the investigation. At the time of the incident chief executive Roger Johnston said no environmental pollution occurred and there was no impact to shipping.

2020-built, Liberia-flagged, 107,549 gt Hagen Oldendorff is owned by CL Marina Ltd care of Wah Kwong Ship Management (Hong Kong) Ltd of Hong Kong, China. It is entered with Gard AS on behalf of CL Marina Ltd. As of August 12th the vessel was in the Malacca Strait en route from Liuheng, China, to Tubarao, Brazil, ETA September 11th.