Home > Human rights, Papua New Guinea > Earlier ferry grounding a warning of a disaster waiting to happen

Earlier ferry grounding a warning of a disaster waiting to happen

February 7, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

This is what happened on my way back to Lae from Rabaul in Jan 2010, after spending 2 weeks (Xmas/New Year) in Rabaul.

  • From Rabaul to Kimbe passengers were already more than enough (I dont really know the sitting capacity, i’d guess about 300)
  • It takes 3 days and 2 nights to get to Lae from Rabaul or vice versa. On the 2nd day at between12 and 1pm we arrived at Kimbe wharf and offloaded cargo and passengers while new passengers got on board with their new cargos.
  • The new passengers on board were more than those that got off…at least 100+ maybe more (mostly Highlanders with their bags of buai!)
  • When everyone was on board there was hardly any room to move around, I was stuck where I sat… going to the loo would be an issue – I would literally have to jump over sleeping/sitting people (which was what happened on my way to Rabaul too)
  • Between 5-6pm when the ship started to move out of Kimbe wharf to begin its journey to Lae it started to rain and the place began to get a little dark.
  • About 50 meters from the wharf, I felt a big thud and the ship came to a halt!… The front of the ship suddenly felt higher than the back.
  • People were suddenly crowding along the railing, I joined in and managed to look over board and saw big chunky pieces of reef/coral sticking out of the sides of the ship – we had run aground!
  • Some men climbed up to the Captains cabin and it was locked as he had locked himself in out of fear of retaliation from passengers, which was what happend on board. Some men were trying to break the door down and beat him up. Later we heard that he had apparently been entertaining some women in his cabin and a crew member had been at the helm. Dont know if that really happend or he was just sleeping in his cabin whilst the crew member took over.
  • We then had to wait for negotiations between the Kimbe whard and main Rabaul Shipping office in Rabaul. We waited till about 7pm for the rescue boat to be given permission to be used to evacuate us!
  • We got rescued whilst the rain pelted down on us, everyone was on the wharf by about 10pm.
  • I had to wait a week for my refund, which i used to top up for airfares back to Madang via Pom. The rest of the people waited for the now sunken Rabaul Queen to take them to Lae.
I’m so thankful that we didnt run aground elsewhere, it would have been fatal.
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