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On 25 September 2004 the general cargo ship Mellum arrived at Thevenard, South Australia, loaded cargo and on 28 September sailed for Melbourne.

At about 1217 the ship cleared Yatala Channel beacons one and two at a speed of about seven knots. Shortly thereafter the pilot disembarked as the ship approached the entrance beacon. Once the pilot had disembarked the master ordered the helmsman to steer a course of 222° by gyro compass.

At 1233, the ship grounded with the entrance beacon bearing 005½°, at a range of 0.52 miles.


The master de-ballasted the ship and with the assistance of the pilot, who had reboarded, refloated the ship. At 2309 the pilot reported that the ship was afloat.

At 1606 on 30 September, Mellum weighed anchor and sailed for Melbourne after it had been checked for damage and seaworthiness. The report found that a misunderstanding between the master and pilot and a lack of planning by the ship's crew were contributing factors. The master/pilot information exchange was found to be deficient. It was also found that the insets and scales of the navigational chart in use and the choice by the pilot to disembark before the ship arrived at the pilot boarding ground may have contributed to the grounding.

The report makes a recommendation relating to pilot training and practices.

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