34a["No Tidings", The West Australian, Monday 01 April 1912, page 7]

...

THE FAILURE OF THE SHORE SEARCH

A DEEP SEA MATTER.

INTERVIEW WITH MR. W. E. MOXON

In order that the public may be fully acquainted with the latest details of the search for the missing liner Koombana, a representative of this journal interviewed Mr. W. E. Moxon, the manager of the Adelaide S.S. Company in Western Australia, last night. With reports from the North-West and charts of the possible catastrophe area in front of him, Mr. Moxon made the following statement:--

"Captain Mills has reported that the s.s. Minderoo from Thursday to Saturday last, shaped a course taking her on the western and eastern side of Barrow Island, and the Montebello Group, and then went round Ritchie Reef searching thoroughly there. Shell and Stewart Islands were visited before he proceeded to Cossack via the Dampier Archipelago, taking in Mermaid, Rosemary, Eaglehawk, Legendre, and Delambre Islands en route, without finding any trace of the Koombana after a most exhaustive and thorough search.

The Bullarra, from Sampson to Hedland, commencing on Tuesday last, searched the Turtle Islands, thence to Bedout Island, where she landed a search party. Here I might mention that they found the new automatic light had been extinguished. This is a matter to which the authorities will give careful consideration. The Amphinome Shoals were visited, and a course shaped along the Eighty-Mile Beach, taking in LaGrange Bay and Roebuck Bay. This also produced no trace of the missing liner.

Close and wide the luggers have been searching from Roebuck Bay round the Amphinone Shoals to Port Hedland, and we understand that Captain Parkes' luggers have been searching from Monte Bellos to Cossack. In addition, luggers have searched Depuch Island, in the neighbourhood of Cossack and Hedland without avail. There is no report at present from the lugger that visited Rowley Shoals, but this, in view of the Gorgon's report, is negligible.

The Gorgon arrived at Broome this morning, her instructions having been to search the Rowley Shoals with Impereiuse, Clark, and Mermaid reefs. She signalled this morning that her search had been thorough, but no trace of the Koombana had been seen. It will, therefore, be seen that the whole of the coast from Barrow and Monte Bello Islands has been searched to Broome, and across from Broome to Rowley Shoals inclusive.

The Moira should have passed down by this time on her trip to Fremantle, taking in the Lacepede Islands, Rowley Shoals, and west of Ritchie Reef, but no report will be received from her, it may be assumed, unless she has something of an urgent nature to communicate before her arrival at Fremantle. It will be remembered that the Moira encountered the cyclone a hundred miles to the north-west of Port Hedland, bound to Wyndham. Detailed in formation of the winds encounteread by her will be of interest, and will only be received on arrival of the vessel at Fermantle. A condensed report, of course, was wired by Captain Ward from Wyndham for the guidance of searchers. The coast search, it will be seen, has been absolutely fruitless, except in so far as the reports that no trace of the vessel can be found.

"Now we come to the question of the ocean search. The Minderoo, we understand, has instructions from Captain Irvine, the chief harmourmaster, to proceed to the north of Ritchie Reef to work up to Rowley Shoals, and so into Port Hedland. The Una, with a month or more supplies of coal, is due at Cossack on April 2, where she will receive her instructions from Capt. Irvine. It is understood that the is to thoroughly search the waters to the west of Monte Bello and Rowley Shoals and between them. The Premier has specially arranged with.the Adelaile S. S. Co., at the urgent request of the public, for the Bullarra to make a six days' search. following up the cyclone track from the neighbourhood of Port Hedland, where the Koombana was last seen. As Captain Upjohn himself knows the direction and strength of the storm, he should, be able to carry out this work very thoroughly and efficiently. I might add that the management of the Adelaide Co., when I referred the matter to them on Saturday evening, instantly agreed to contribute substantially to the expenses which the Government will incur in connection with the Bullarra's search.

The Minderoo, on the way out from Cossack, is to traverse the open waters eastward from Ritchie Reef from the Rowley Shoals, thence to Port Hedland.

I understand that the Endeavour, the Federal trawler, has left Adelaide to conduct a search.

As evidence of some of the distances which a search in these waters entails, including the open seas, a line drawn from Ritchie Reef to Impereiuse Reef, in Rowley Shoals, is approximately 250 miles. From Ritchie Reef to Cossack, Depuch Island and Poit Hedland is about 200 miles, and from Hedland to Impereiuse Reef 150 miles. From Ritchie Reef to Lacepede Is lands is 440 miles, and from Port Hedland to Broome round the Amphinome group is about 280 miles. Thus a section only of this search area is (Ritchie Repf to Rowley Shoals and Port Hedland) like a triangle, 250 miles by 200 miles by 150, miles, with the open sea to the west, where also the missing boat might be found. The search so far has been very thorough, and everybody concerned has shown the utmost willingness to assist the authorities in prosecuting the search for the steamer and the unfortunate 140 people on board. All the public can do now is to wait the result of the ocean search and any further lugger reports.

"The Adelaide Company continue to hope that the Koombana may have survived the awful storm of March 21, and may be in a disabled condition somewhere at sea, although immediately authentic news of the direction of the cyclonic winds at Port Hedland was received it became abundantly clear that the Koombana, being in the left-hand semi-circle of the storm, must have been placed in circumstances of utmost danger and difficulty. It will be remembered that in the case of the Bullarra and the Moira the hurricane wind which they experienced veered from E.N.E. southwards to W. Port Hedland reports, on the other hand, show that the wind started E., backed to E.N.E., returned to E., again backed to E.N.E. with hurricane force, veering to N.N.E. and N. and N.N.W., blowing a full hurricane the whole time. This was, of course, in an entirely contrary direction to that experienced by the other two vessels, and indicating, so nautical experts affirm, that the Koombana was on the left-hand semi-circle, of the cyclone. Thus it looks as though she had Bedout Islands and the Amphinome Shoals under her lee with the hurricane ahead of her and backing to N., involving her in a most serious position. On the other hand, the centre of the hurricane was apparently right in the track of the vessel to the open sea to the westwards. It certainly is the opinion of nautical men that the s.s. Koombana, to avoid certain destruction near the Amphinome Shoals, had only one alternative before her, and has been face to face with the dreaded centre of the cyclone, with what result the ocean search can only reveal."

...

On Saturday evening Mr. Gardiner, M.L.A. for Roebourne, telegraphed the following message to the Premier:-

"Arrived Cossack in Minderoo today. Captain Mills made thorough search through Mary Ann Passage, along the east side of Barrow Shoal, round Barrow Island, and round Montebello Island and Ritchie Reef. Then steered east 25 miles, then south again to Sholl Islands. Searched the islands and then along the coast to Cossack, through the whole of the Dampier Archipelago. No trace of the Koombana. Going to Balla Balla tonight, then out searching."

It seems, therefore, that both the Bullarra and the Minderoo will be in the search and will be starting from opposite ends of the area which has to be covered. The telegram, continuing, stated that the search by the Minderoo had been most complete and that Captain Mills felt sure that the Koombana had not gone in that particular direction.

34b[Wreck of the "Koombana" - photocopy of material relating to, Harbour and Lights Department, Western Australia, 1912, State Records Office of Western Australia. WAS1618 Consignment 5055 Item 001, Telegram, Joseph Gardiner, at Cossack, to Premier Scaddan, Perth, Saturday 30 March 1912]

Arrived minderoo today captain Mills made thorough search through Mary Ann Passage made search East side Barrow Shoal round barrow Island round Monte Bellos Islands and richie reef steered east twentyfive miles then south on to sholl Islands searched whole of islands on coast Cossack sailed close to reef along barrow shoal searched whole dampier archipelago going balla Balla tonight then out searching no traces Koombana search by Minderoo was most complete and captain mills is most satisfied Koombana not that direction

J P Gardiner

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