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On the evening of 3 December 1987, the small Australian coastal trader Leichardt was passing through Endeavour Strait, northern Queensland, on passage from Horn Island to Weipa. The Mate took over the watch from the Master at 2000, navigation being conducted by radar, there being no lights in the area.

After rounding Entrance Island, Leichhardt was more than half a mile south of the intended track. Although the Mate adjusted course to regain the track, the vessel grounded momentarily on a charted shoal. The vessel was stopped & soundings showed flooding in No 2 starboard fuel tank, which was empty.

Clearance was eventually granted to the vessel to proceed to Groote Eylandt, where it arrived safely on 7 December 1987.


Poor passage planning, in particular the laying off of the course line only two cables from a known danger, in an area where currents were known to be strong.

Navigation was not carried out using the appropriate, large scale chart.

Not only was the Mate unfamiliar with the Endeavour Strait, he did not appreciate that the vessel was standing into danger.

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