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Cause of Starfish sinking remains a mystery



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jtts Bob Collins -V AUSTRALIA....... M inister fo r Shipping and Aviation Support ■ 12 December 1991

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CAUSE OF STARFISH SINKING REMAINS A MYSTERY

A Department of Transport and Communications investigation into why the 21-year-old Panamanian bulk carrier Starfish sank off Maritius on April 8, has found insufficient evidence in Australia to determine the cause.

Commenting on the report, the Minister for Shipping and Aviation Support, Senator Bob Collins, said the investigation had found that the cargo of iron ore loaded at Port Walcott on 22 March had been presented in a proper manner and loaded according to the requirements of the

ship's staff. ..

The Starfish had deviated from its course across the South Indian Ocean after the crew discovered the ship was taking in water in the after-cargo holds.

Mauritius authorities, worried that the ship might pollute the local environment, had ordered Starfish to leave its waters under escort.

The ship sank on 8 April after the crew had been taken off by a Coast Guard vessel.

The investigation found that although rough weather had been experienced on the passage, such conditions should not have caused problems to a well-found ship.

It concluded there was insufficient evidence to indicate the cause of Starfish taking water into the holds.

Before loading at Port Walcott, the ship had been in Singapore, where it had changed registration from Argentina to Panama and had been issued with interim international safety certificates by the Classification Society.

Senator Collins said the investigation had considered that the issuing of new certificates provided prima facie evidence that the vessel was seaworthy, and that unless a recent comprehensive inspection had been undertaken, the certificates would have been issued without a full knowledge of the condition of the ship.

The report of the investigation is available at regional offices of the Department of Transport and Communications, in each capital city.

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