Victoria Minister for Ports Denis Napthine
Minister Welcomes Independent Lady Cheryl Report
Victor P Taffa
Minister for Ports Denis Napthine today welcomed the release of an independent report into the incident involving the commercial fishing vessel Lady Cheryl which sank at Point Nepean on 24 March this year.
Dr. Napthine said the report by the Chief Investigator of Transport Safety concluded that alcohol and fatigue were the major contributing factors to the incident.
“This report clearly shows that human error caused by a severe lapse in judgement resulted in the sinking of Lady Cheryl earlier this year.” Dr. Napthine said.
“Despite having a seaworthy vessel and an up-to-date safety management system in place, the crew ignored the vessel company’s zero alcohol policy and placed themselves and the environment at risk.”
“The report states that the master of the vessel at the time was fatigued before starting work and had consumed a significant amount of alcohol and was over the allowed blood alcohol limit of 0.05 (which was the allowable limit at the time).”
“The incident resulted in a resource-intensive response from various Government agencies that worked around the clock over an extended period of time to ensure risks to the environment and to public safety were managed.”
“We were extremely lucky this incident did not result in loss of life or major environmental damage to the bay. The Victorian Coalition Government takes marine safety seriously and since this incident we have introduced a zero alcohol limit for commercial vessel operators and any operators under the age of 21.” Dr. Napthine said.
The report concludes that the master of the vessel Lady Cheryl mistakenly altered course believing he had cleared the Port Phillip Heads, resulting in a collision with a reef near Point Nepean.
It also makes recommendations on the management for the control of alcohol consumption and fatigue and recommendations to the waterway manager to consider opportunities for expanding vessel traffic services to smaller vessels.
“This was an avoidable incident and one that we are diligent about not repeating in the future. We are focusing on improving marine safety and are actively on the water enforcing marine drug and alcohol laws.” Dr. Napthine said.