The ATSB has found that an undetected flaw, and the subsequent failure of a critical main engine component, led to the bulk carrier Enterprise being disabled in Bass Strait on 10 July 2006 and drifting for nearly three days.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation has found that a microscopic flaw led to the failure of a main engine gudgeon pin. The investigation also found that the engine manufacturer did not provide sufficient guidance for monitoring the fatigue life of gudgeon pins and that the planning and execution of maintenance on critical items of equipment was inadequate.

At about 1540 on 10 July 2006, while Enterprise was en route from Adelaide to Newcastle, the main engine low lubricating oil pressure alarm sounded, indicating that the main engine's lubricating oil filter was choked. While the duty engineer was changing over to the spare lubricating oil filter, oil pressure was lost, causing the engine to stop. The engine was restarted and the voyage was resumed.

At 1805, the alarm sounded again and the engineers stopped the engine. At 2000, after inspections had been undertaken, the chief engineer advised the master that there was probably damage to the engine's bearings and that the ship would need to be towed to the nearest port for repairs.

At 1400 on 13 July, Enterprise was taken in tow by the tug Keera and towed to Melbourne, where it berthed at 1900 on 15 July. During the engine repairs in Melbourne it was discovered that one gudgeon pin had failed.

The ATSB has made three safety recommendations with the aim of preventing further incidents of this type.

Copies of the report can be downloaded from the ATSB's internet site at

Media contact: 1800 020 616
Last update 01 April 2011