The tugboat Adonis, that sank killing its captain, is refloated.
The tugboat Adonis, that sank killing its captain, is refloated. Chrissy Harris

Union to launch petition calling for inquest into boat death

UPDATE: The Maritime Union of Australia will launch a community petition calling for a coronial investigation into the death of a Gladstone seafarer in the harbour two years ago.

Gladstone MUA organiser Jason Miners said a seafarer who was involved in the tragedy supported the push.

"We've got 300 members in Gladstone alone. They all want the coroner onto this," Mr Miners said.

"Even non-members, people who knew Dudley and were at his funeral, say it's got to happen."

The MUA this week criticised an Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation, saying it failed to hold anyone to account for the death.

ATSB chief commissioner Martin Dolan on Tuesday said his bureau could not assign blame but would pass on its work to the coroner if necessary.

You can find the petition online here.

EARLIER: The Maritime Union of Australia is calling for a coronial inquest into the death of a man in Gladstone Harbour, and has branded an investigation into the 2011 fatality a whitewash.

Captain Dudley Jacobs was killed when the tug Adonis capsized on June 11, 2011.

In February, an Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation found the tug capsized after an operator error.

But the MUA claimed the investigation ignored operator Sea Swift's "total disregard for basic safety processes" and failed to hold anyone responsible for the tragedy.

The MUA said the Sea Swift tug was contracted by Bechtel when Mr Jacobs died.

The union said it was shocking that Sea Swift still operated in the harbour and neither company had been held to account over the death.

Local MUA spokesman Jason Miners claimed short-term contract arrangements between Bechtel and harbour operators had led to unsafe worker numbers, and called for a coronial inquest into the circumstances that led to the fatality.

"It is crystal clear to us ... that we need a much more systematic, thorough investigation into the events prior to the incident and leading up to the capsizing of the Adonis," he said.

Mr Miners said the ATSB report acknowledged major alterations had been made to the tug, which affected its stability.

"That's clearly the fault of the operator - why haven't they been held to account?" he said.

He said seafarers who were involved in the incident said the ATSB report did not reflect what happened when the tug capsized, and were disgusted by the report.

He also raised concerns about Sea Swift's safety management system.

"Captain Jacobs' family deserve better, and the people who work at Gladstone deserve to know that future working conditions will achieve the highest level of safety so this does not happen again," he said.

"What requirements did Bechtel put on Sea Swift before they awarded the contract, and what did the safety management systems and surveyor's reports find about the vessel's stability?"

Sea Swift did not respond to The Observer's questions about safety.

A Bechtel spokesman wouldn't address questions about the contract.

"This was a tragic incident. But we can't comment on the outcomes of the report because we weren't involved in the investigation nor mentioned in the resulting publication."

Read the union's full response to the ATSB investigation here