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Christmas Island ship captain criticised
The Tycoon sinks further under the water. Picture: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

A catalogue of errors by a ship’s captain and port master led to the crew of a cargo ship being forced to abandon the vessel as it was battered on rocks at Christmas Island, safety inspectors have concluded.

In January 2012, mooring lines on the 4000-tonne, Panama-registered MV Tycoon broke free, causing the ship to slam into cliffs and a crane pylon at Flying Fish Cove.

As the ship’s engine room began to flood through a tear in the hull, the crew were forced to abandon ship, with the vessel then breaking up.

The island’s only port was blocked by the wreck for months, forcing ships unloading cargo offshore to use barges.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau released their final report into the wreck today, which was highly critical of the ships’ master for not telling the shore authorities a mooring line had come free.

The report also concluded he did not make proper use of the ship’s main engine or mooring lines to keep the ship in position after the mooring line came free.

The ATSB also found no risk assessment had been done by successive port managers about how safe the inner moorings in Flying Fish Cove were, and they did not know the mooring line shackles were degraded.

The port has since replaced and upgraded its mooring equipment, and developed a safety handbook to be provided to the master of each ship.

“The ATSB advises port authorities to have procedures and contingency plans in place to deal with foreseeable emergencies,” the report said.

“It is vital that there be effective maintenance and inspection regimes to ensure the good order of equipment and facilities.”