12 Apr 2013

PNG ship owner cut corners, focussed on profit - former worker

8:30 am on 12 April 2013

A former manager of a Vanuatu shipping service says that the Papua New Guinea-based shipping magnate, Peter Sharp, was chiefly motivated by money and wasn't afraid to cut corners.

Mr Sharp's ship, the Rabaul Queen, sunk of Lae last year, killing more than 140 people.

Ian Sturtevant, who was suspended as manager of Windward Holdings Ltd last year, has begun court proceedings against Mr Sharp over outstanding pay.

Mr Sharp has told Vanuatu media that Mr Sturtevant had misused company funds.

But Mr Sturtevant accuses Peter Sharp of cleaning out the operation's account after running into financial problems in PNG following the sinking of the Rabaul Queen.

"Money was his prime object and he'd been doing it for so long, he tried to cut corners. If he could save money, he obviously tried to. But none of our ships over here (Vanuatu) have got into any trouble: they haven't run aground, they haven't lost anybody overboard, they haven't been caught for overloading or anything like that."

Ian Sturtevant says Windward's Efate Queen and Santo Queen inter-island vessels have stopped servicing the islands since he was sidelined.