20 Dec 2002

Burnt out luxury cruise ship seized in Papeete

5:00 pm on 20 December 2002

A court in Tahiti has ordered the seizure of a luxury cruise liner that was gutted by fire this month after the French Navy demanded payment for putting out the blaze.

It took three days to put out a fire that started in the engine room of the four masted Windsong off Raiatea in French Polynesia two weeks ago.

The 127 passengers and crew of 75 had to be rescued.

After putting out the fire the French Navy towed the ship into Papeete harbour.

The Tahitipresse news agency says the Navy is not attempting to recover the costs of the rescue as it concedes such operations are part of its normal duty.

However it wants the owners of the vessel, Windstar, of Seattle, to pay the costs of fire fighting and the tow to Papeete.

It had used special navy fire fighters and high tech infra-red equipment to put out the blaze.

The agency says the court has ordered a three million US dollar guarantee before the ship will be freed.