27 Mar 2010

Marine surveyor says new Tongan ferry is up to standard

10:19 am on 27 March 2010

The company that assessed and approved a temporary ferry for Tonga says it is a new vessel, which will easily handle the job.

A year-long charter paid for New Zealand and Australia will replace the Princess Ashika, which sank last August claiming 74 lives.

A Tongan Royal Commission heard the rusted ferry was unseaworthy and had not been not properly checked before it was bought.

London Offshore Consultants assessed the ferry, Ajang Subuh, which was built in 2008 to serve oil rigs and platforms.

Its Singapore-based marine surveyor, Kollengode Krishnan, says the boat is up to standard for the year's duties.

"It was designed to go offshore, so offshore conditions can be pretty rough, I think between the islands she would be able to manage for a year."

Marine surveyor Kollengode Krishnan.