Marine safety investigations & reports

Sinking of the bulk carrier Melete

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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The Melete sailed from Dampier, Western Australia on 11 August 1991 with 27 persons on board, bound for Port Talbot, Wales with a cargo of 68902 tonnes of iron ore fines.

At 0358Z 24 August the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Canberra received a distress call via the Inmarsat A Indian Ocean satellite from the Melete in position 27 41'S 054 13'E. The distress message said that the Melete was in danger of sinking with 27 crew on board. The MRCC advised the Melete to activate their EPERB, shortly after which all contact with the Melete was lost.

Search and rescue operations were coordinated by Marine La Reunion. Aircraft and other ships arriving at the last known position of Melete reported sighting oil slicks and flotsam.

Two crew members of Melete were rescued. Continued searches failed to locate other survivors.


It is considered that:

  1. The cargo as presented for loading was in accordance with the Code of Safe Practice for Solid Bulk Cargoes.
  2. The cargo loading sequence was in accordance with the Master's instructions.
  3. The loading rates were comparable with those normally carried out at the Parker Point berth and not excessive.
  4. The pour quantities stipulated by the Master, as percentages of deadweight, were typical of current loading practices. However, this is a subject that requires to be investigated thoroughly.
  5. There is no evidence in Australia to indicate that any structural damage may have occurred due to contact with other vessels or the berth whilst Melete was at Dampier.
Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 160KB]
General details
Date: 24 August 1991   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: N/A    
Location: South Indian Ocean    
State: Western Australia    
Release date: 09 June 1992   Occurrence category: Serious Incident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Vessel details

Vessel details
Vessel Melete  
Flag Greec  
IMO 7343059  
Type of operation Bulk carrier  
Damage to vessel Destroyed  
Departure point Dampier, Western Australia  
Departure time N/A  
Destination Port Talbot, Wales  
  Crew Passenger Ground Total
Fatal: 25 0 0 25
Total: 25 0 0 25
Last update 18 May 2016