Salvage of the tug boat Adonis, which sank in Gladstone Harbour in 2011.
Salvage of the tug boat Adonis, which sank in Gladstone Harbour in 2011. Chrissy Harris

Bureau releases report on Gladstone tug rollover death

A TUG operating in Gladstone Harbour had entered "a classic capsize scenario" before it rolled over, killing a popular Gladstone man in 2011.

An investigation into the incident has been completed by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

The tug, called Adonis, was working with a second tug to relocate a barge when it capsized on June 11, 2011.

Four men were on board. Three of those were rescued, but the tug's master, Dudley Jacobs, lost his life.

Mr Jacobs was a highly experienced seaman, having spent his working life on the water and working as a marine pilot for 29 years.

The safety bureau report said the Adonis had been in the wrong position.

"While the masters of the two tugs involved with the tow were aware of the risks of tugs capsizing, neither of them realised that Adonis had entered a classic capsize scenario when it moved abaft (to the rear) of the barge's port bow before the barge had begun to slow down," the report said.

"The barge's speed was not reduced in time to allow Adonis' master to regain control of the tug and manoeuvre it back into a safe position ahead of the barge.

"The tug's crew were not able to release the towline using the towing hook's quick release arrangement before the tug capsized."

ATSB said the Sea Swift, the company which owned Adonis, had since produced new procedures covering quick release arrangements on its tugs and had "enhanced training and familiarisation of its crews with these arrangements".