22 May 2012

PNG sinking amid Maritime Authority failings, says surveyor

1:08 pm on 22 May 2012

A Papua New Guinea surveyor has told the commission investigating the Rabaul Queen sinking that its regular sailings with more than 300 passengers was a gross failing of the National Maritime Safety Authority.

The commission has now heard five weeks of testimony into the tragedy which is thought to have claimed more than 200 lives when the ship sank sailing from Kimbe to Lae.

Megan Whelan has more.

"Michael Pidi, a surveyor who had previously worked for the National Maritime Safety Authority, was asked to verify that the Rabaul Queen had sailed for a period of more than 12 months without a valid survey certificate. He agreed with counsel that the Authority failed in its obligations and duties. Mr Pidi also agreed that it is inconceivable that the Rabaul Queen could be running for years carrying too many passengers and being allowed to continue to operate. He told the Commission that for the Authority's surveyors to have not inspected the vessel and done something about the excess passenger numbers was either incompetence, gross carelessness or dishonesty."