25 May 2012

PNG's Rabaul Queen inquiry hears about vulnerability to flooding

2:54 pm on 25 May 2012

The Rabaul Queen's vulnerability to flooding has been highlighted to the Commission of Inquiry into the Papua New Guinea ferry's sinking in February.

The inquiry has heard six weeks of testimony into the vessel's sinking in stormy seas between Kimbe and Lae, thought to have claimed more than 200 lives.

Annell Husband reports.

"A consultant naval architect and maritime safety specialist, Robin Gehling, told the inquiry it would have been dangerous and unsafe to sail the Rabaul Queen in conditions of 45 knots or above. He outlined the vessel's vulnerability to flooding, related to the position of engine ventilation shafts and the inability to stop water taken onboard from spreading through the ship. Mr Gehling also said overloading and uneven weight distribution would compromise the centre of gravity and increase the risk of surf-riding. The executive manager of operations for the country's Maritime Safety Authority told the inquiry the ship complied with safety regulations at its most recent survey last October. But Nurur Rahman said the Rabaul Queen was not authorised to carry more than 295 passengers and he partly accepted that the authority did not do enough to ensure it was operating safely."