Shipping Inquests

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The investigations for the ferry which sunk a few months ago have been ongoing at the Lae Inter in Lae and articles are appearing in the paper on a regular basis – from the stories of survivors to the sad tales of parents and loved ones telling of the last time they saw their son/daughter/wife/husband waving goodbye from the port.

This article from the other week reports on the captain’s trial.  One thing really sticks out – this was the THIRD vessel to sink under his command!

‘Ship out of control’

The National, 3rd May 2012

MOMENTS after the first wave struck the passenger ferry mv Rabaul Queen, the ship lost steering and power leaving it helpless, a Commission of Inquiry into its sinking was told.
Capt Anthony Tsiau, giving evidence to the inquiry in Kokopo last week, said the wind had picked up to between 20 knots and 30 knots – nine nautical miles (16km) off the coast of Finschhafen on Feb 2 – and he had taken manual control of the ship.
“So while I was steering, at about 6.15am in the morning, this wave hit us on our starboard side.
“And then the ship listed to port. It went to port side, and then I tried to steer the ship to get it back, but it cannot. It lost steers, but I was still trying to get the – steer the ship.
“Then the ship swung to starboard – towards the starboard side and then the next wave came and hit us and then capsized.”
Tsiau, who has captained the mv Rabaul Queen for 12 years, said: “So when the ship capsized, I was inside it and then I floated up, and then there was an air pocket inside the wheelhouse.
“From there, I … I tried to swim out, there was a light … then that light guided me out through the promenade and then come to the surface.”
Tsiau managed to get to a life raft, lashed it to another and then helped others in the water to climb into it. He could hear a lot of shouting with people calling for help.
Evidence to the inquiry has indicated that about 220 people perished, and possibly more than 250, according to witnesses.
Tsiau has admitted that in peak season he routinely loaded more passengers onto the Rabaul Queen than it was certified to carry.
Although he was aware the ship was certified to carry 295 passengers, he often loaded more than 350 adults, and sometimes more than 370 – plus crew and small children, who were not counted.
He admitted that he sailed  without obtaining detailed weather information, and over the years took the ship into gale-force conditions it was not certified to navigate.
It was the third vessel to sink under his command.
The inquiry is sitting in Buka this week. It then heads to Kimbe before returning to Port Moresby.
It is due to prepare a report by the end of June.


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