4 Sep 2012

Inquiry into PNG ferry disaster wants immediate Maritime Safety Authority review

1:45 pm on 4 September 2012

The Commission of Inquiry report into the Rabaul Queen shipping disaster in Papua New Guinea is calling for wide ranging changes to improve safety at sea.

The Rabaul Queen sank in heavy seas off Lae on February the 2nd, with an estimated loss of life of up to 161 people.

Don Wiseman has more:

"The Commission's report, being made public today, was highly critical of the Maritime Safety Authority, saying the owner of the Rabaul Queen, Peter Sharp, treated it with contempt. It wants the government to undertake a thorough review of the Authority to ensure staff are competent. It says the Government must ensure the agency is properly funded and meets its statutory obligations, including surveys undertaken every six months at least. It says the Authority must immediately revoke the appointment of Mr Sharp as a recognised ships surveyor. It wants safety demonstrations on vessels, and directs they be delivered in both English and Tok Pisin. The Commission says the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre must immediately be manned, equipped and resourced, and improvements made at the National Weather Service. It says the Merchant Shipping Act 1975 is deficient and needs radical changes to ensure it is consistent with, or exceeds, international standards. This includes lifejackets and life boats being carried to 125 percent of a vessel's capacity."