8["S.S. Koombana", The Northern Times (Carnarvon, WA), Saturday 12 June 1909, page 2]


The Chief Harbourmaster (Captain C. J. Irvine), having made inquiry into the circumstances attending the stranding of the steamer Koombana in Sharks Bay on the morning of March 16, has furnished his report and finding to the Under-Secretary. His report and finding is as follows:

"The s.s. Koombuna sailed from Fremantle on March 12, for Derby, via ports and rounded Cape Levillian at 3 a.m. March 16, had steered the usual course for Heirisson Flat Buoy (the outer or westerly mark for the entrance to the channel leading to Denham painted red. At 7.10 a.m., when nearing the channel, the westernmost black buoy marking the north side of the channel was sighted, but the morning being hazy, together with the rising sun, gave the buoy a red appearance, which led the master, also the chief officer who was present on the bridge, to conclude the ship had made her course good from off Cape Levillian, and that the buoy in sight was the red one marking the north end of Heirisson Flats, and a course was shaped for the channel accordingly, the result being that the ship grounded on a small isolated patch of sand, having a least depth of 14 feet over it, the ship's draught being approximately 16 feet 10 inches. Some twenty minutes before sighting the buoy a leadsman was placed in the chain, and the lead was kept going until the buoy was sighted. The engines were also stopped immediately prior to picking up the buoy, and when the buoy was sighted the engines were ordered full speed, and the vessel took the ground about ten minutes after the order was given. Every endeavour was made with the appliances to hand to refloat the vessel, but without success, until the s.s. Winfield rendered assistance. The bottom being soft sand and the water, smoooth, the vessel sustained no damage.

"My finding is:- (a) The s.s. Koombana, whilst on a coasting trip from Fremantle to Dorby via ports, grounded in the vicinity of the entrance to the channel leading to Denham; (b) that the grounding was caused by the master mistaking the mark buoy in north side in the channel for the outer or westerly buoy; (c) under the circumstances owing to the haze preventing the master from verifying his position by bearings from the headlands, and the fact that the lead would give little warning of the approach of shoal waters, more care should have been exercised when approaching Heirisson Flats, and the speed of the ship reduced to 'slow' until the vessel's position had been definitely ascertained; (d) considering the past good record of the master, and the fact that the vessel did not sustain any injury, I recommend that no further action be taken. (Signed) C. J. Irvine, Chief Harbourmaster.