Home > Corruption, Human rights, Papua New Guinea > Seaworthiness rules were not followed in Rabaul Queen disaster

Seaworthiness rules were not followed in Rabaul Queen disaster

February 20, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

By Frank Rai

A longtime ship captain in Lae has claimed that the recent MV Rabaul Queen disaster would not have happened if seaworthy rules and regulations were followed by the shipping company, Rabaul Shipping.

The captain who requested anonymity told Post-Courier in an exclusive interview yesterday that there were a set of laws and guidelines under the Maritime Act, International Maritime Organisation Laws and Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulations to follow.

The ship captain was one of those ships that retrieved the bodies of the three women floating at sea when his ship was heading to Lae.

Tucking 20-years of experience under his belt, the captain said those guidelines were fundamental for all seaman and women, including the shipping companies to comply with in regards to human lives on board any vessels. He said the Load Live Convention and the SOLAS regulations demand that safety requirements should be conducted by demonstrating safety drills for passengers prior to sailing.

The captain said the laws and regulations also states that passengers and cargos should be loaded within the confine of the gross tonnes and length of the ship.

“But this has not happened when MV Rabaul Queen headed to Lae from Bougainville, Rabaul and Kimbe. Cargos and passengers were not loaded according to the gross tonnes and length of the ship,” the captain alleged.

He said when he sailed to the disaster site, his crew spotted three bodies floating on the open sea with an empty life raft and three life jackets.

“I presume that safety drills were not conducted prior to sailing. We saw an empty life raft that should have saved many lives including three live jackets. He said that the passengers were left to the mercy of the disaster while such preventable measures were not undertaken by the ship crew,” he added.

The captain further claimed that there allegations that the sunken ship had an engine problem but it was not attended to that also contributed to the ship sailing against the gale force wind.

He said he welcomed the independent investigation called by the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill into the MV Rabaul Queen disaster and was happy to assist in any way possible.

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