30 Apr 2012

PNG Rabaul Queen skipper tells disaster inquiry no stability calculation done

3:19 pm on 30 April 2012

The man in command during one of Papua New Guinea's worst ferry disasters has admitted to gambling with the lives of passengers because vital stability checks had not been completed in more than a decade.

Captain Anthony Tsiau was in charge of the Rabaul Queen when it sank in rough seas off the coast of Lae on February the 2nd.

The exact number of dead remains unclear.

The ship was licensed to carry 310, but relatives of the dead and some survivors say it was overcrowded, with as many as 550 on board.

There were 237 survivors.

Captain Tsiau has told a commission of inquiry in Rabaul that no stability calculation had been conducted on the vessel since 1999.

A stability calculation is vital for determining how many passengers can board the vessel.

He admitted that without such a calculation the ferry was potentially unsafe for the passengers and crew.