Section 21 (2) of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 (TSI Act) empowers the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) to discontinue an investigation into a transport safety matter at any time. Section 21 (3) of the TSI Act requires the ATSB to publish a statement setting out the reasons for discontinuing an investigation.

At 1625 on 26 February 2013, the Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) Australia was advised that Mellum Trader was in need of assistance. The ship had been drifting to the northwest of Broome, Western Australia, while the master waited for the port to re-open following the passing of Cyclone Rusty. However, the cargo had shifted as a result of the ship’s movement in the extreme weather conditions and the ship was now listing heavily.

Air and surface assistance was tasked to the area and the master altered course to minimise the effect of the weather on the ship. When the weather abated, the ship resumed its passage to Broome where it berthed on 1 March.

During the course of the investigation, the ATSB looked at several areas which may have had an influence on the incident, its outcome or have ongoing safety implications. These included:

  • tropical cyclone avoidance
  • guidance material and management support/resources
  • cargo lashing and securing plans and arrangements
  • ship stability and ballasting
  • passage planning and record keeping
  • actions of the master and crew
  • effectiveness of the emergency response.

Analysis in these and other areas of investigation revealed no underlying safety issues. Accordingly, the ATSB decided that there was limited potential to enhance transport safety by continuing this investigation, and has elected to discontinue it.