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Yacht Collides with Cargo Ship - Australia

By Sue Richards last modified Sep 10, 2009 01:03 PM

Published: 2009-09-10 13:03:35
Countries: Australia

Authorities say the cargo ship that collided with solo yachtswoman Jessica Watson early this morning saw the 16-year-old's yacht before the two made contact, but it is too early to know who is responsible.

Jessica Watson last night left Mooloolaba in Queensland bound for Sydney on a 10-day preliminary journey ahead of a solo around-the-world trip, but her 10.4-metre sloop Pink Lady collided with 63,000-tonne bulk carrier Silver Yang early this morning, near North Stradbroke Island.

Two investigators were dispatched to Queensland this afternoon by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and are expected to interview Ms Watson tomorrow morning as part of their inquiries. Mike Squires, Acting Director of Surface Safety for the transport investigator, said that investigators will ask the young skipper about her skills, knowledge and qualifications to establish whether that was a factor.

Mr Squires told reporters in Canberra this afternoon that the Silver Yang had seen the Pink Lady before the two collided.

"Certainly the bigger ship is indicating that they did see it, so the reason why they saw one another and came to the collision is going to be something that we're going to have to follow down the path of," he said.

Mr Squires said it appeared both vessels were travelling at typical speeds, making it unlikely speed was a factor. "It's hard to imagine that speed's an issue at this time," he said.

He said Ms Watson was "very" lucky to escape uninjured and with only minor damage to the yacht, which earlier reports indicated was limited to the mast, rigging and hull.

"A ship of that size, which is fairly large when fully loaded, tends not to be very forgiving in the face of a collision with a small fibreglass boat," he said. "Any collision is inherently dangerous, and the fact that the vessel floated is extremely fortunate for the young lady on the boat."

Mr Squires said he thought it was likely the yacht could be able to continue sailing. "My guess is the Pink Lady will be fairly rapidly repaired."

The Hong Kong-registered Silver Yang has continued on its journey and is expected to next dock in China.

The ATSB has made contact with Hong Kong authorities with a request for them to carry out interviews and inspection of the bulk carrier, while the ship's crew have been instructed to back-up data recordings and log books on board.


Our thanks to David Montgomery for sending us this article