9 Feb 2010

Witness tells inquiry in Tonga he was astounded Ashika ferry was allowed to sail

12:12 pm on 9 February 2010

A witness yesterday told the Royal Commission investigating the sinking of the Tongan Ferry Princess Ashika, he was astounded it was signed off as seaworthy by Tonga's acting Marine Director.

The rusty ship sank last August with the loss of 74 lives.

Richard Pamatatau has more

"The marine manager of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community John Hogan agreed it was incomprehensible Tonga's acting marine director who listed the ferry's deficiencies would also let it sail. Captain Hogan says Tonga does not compare well with high marine safety standards elsewhere in the Pacific. He says if the ferry had been surveyed in Fiji prior to purchase it would have failed and not been allowed to leave port. Captain Hogan told the inquiry that due diligence is critical in any purchase and the evidence indicates the ferry was a disaster waiting to happen."