14 Mar 2012

PNG shipping company defends Rabaul Queen's suitability

4:36 pm on 14 March 2012

The principal of the Rabaul Shipping Company, which operated the ill fated Rabaul Queen, has defended the vessel's suitability as a long haul inter-island ferry.

The ship sank six weeks ago off Morobe in Papua New Guinea with still to be determined losses.

Estimates have ranged from about 100 to more than 300 deaths, with disaster officials now saying a more likely figure is 220, while the principal Peter Sharp has a figure of 128, based on ticket stubbs.

Don Wiseman has more:

"There has been criticism that the vessel was not capable of the type of work it was doing but Peter Sharp, a Master Mariner of 42 years experience, says in the 12 years since he had personally delivered the vessel from Japan it had covered the same body of water more than a thousand times. He says before the disaster the Rabaul Queen was the best ferry in PNG. Mr Sharp says the company denies any wrongdoing in an event that could not have been foreseen, and any compensation will be dependent on the outcome of the commission of inquiry. He says the company supports the government's plans to improve the quality of vessels brought into the country if such changes can be justified but he says Rabaul Shipping believes it supplies the best service that grassroots people can afford."