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The Panamanian registered bulk carrier ALEXANDRE-P, a ship of 94532 tonnes deadweight and some 250 metres in length, loaded a cargo of iron ore at the Western Australian port of Dampier on 12 March 1990.

On completion of loading the ship proceeded to the outer anchorage in order to close and secure hatches, departing from the anchorage at 1610 hours Western Australian Standard Time on 13 March 1990, bound for Capetown and Gijon, Spain.

At 1400 hours WAST on 14 March 1990 the ship made a daily routine position report to the Federal Sea Safety Centre, Canberra under the Australian Ship Reporting System. The ship failed to keep its next scheduled broadcast at 1400 hours WAST on 15 March 1990 and 'ship overdue' procedures were put into motion at the FSSC.

Air searches commenced when the ship became 24 hours overdue on the afternoon of 16 March, flotsam eventually being located on 18 March in the area centred on position 20S 112E. The ship ENERGY SEARCHER arrived on the scene on 20 March and retrieved a liferaft which was identified by the owners as belonging to the ALEXANDRE-P. No survivors were found.


  1. The cargo of iron ore, lumps and fines, was presented for loading in a proper manner.
  2. The cargo was loaded in accordance with the Master's/Chief Officer's requirements.
  3. The loading sequence, which was modified as a result of No 3 hatch jamming, although perhaps not the most preferable, is not considered unreasonable or to have placed undue stress upon the ship.
  4. From the observations of witnesses it is considered that the ALEXANDRE-P had not been well maintained, that there was heavy corrosion and wastage around the main deck and cargo hatches and also in the upper sections of the transverse bulkhead between holds 2 and 3.
  5. From the position of the flotsam it is considered that the ALEXANDRE-P foundered sometime around 1800/1900 hours ship's time on 14 March 1990 in approximate position 2020S 11200E.
  6. Due to the fact that no distress message was heard by either coast radio stations or other shipping and due to the lack of survivors or further bodies, it is concluded that the foundering was both sudden and rapid.
  7. The wind and sea conditions being light, are not considered to be causal factors to the loss.
  8. A 2-3 metre swell from the southwest would have caused the ALEXANDRE-P to pitch moderately and also to roll slightly.
  9. Although the cause of the foundering cannot be determined with any certainty and although beyond the scope of this investigation, it is considered that either a sudden, massive structural failure occurred, with the ship breaking into two sections or, there was some form of explosion in the engineroom, of sufficient magnitude to rupture the ship's hull and cause rapid flooding and sinking.
  10. Professional opinion is that the two recovered corpses bore evidence of flash burns and blast injuries, indicating that some form of explosion did occur.
  11. If the foundering was in fact due to a major structural failure, it is considered that inspection at dampier under the port state control provisions of the International Conventions would have been unlikely to prevent the foundering.
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