18 May 2012

PNG maritime safety official admits failure in sinking tragedy

6:20 am on 18 May 2012

A Maritime Safety official in Papua New Guinea has admitted to the commission of inquiry into the Rabaul Queen disaster that he failed to properly carry out his responsibilities.

Michael Benjamin Livinai has been giving evidence into the sinking of the vessel soon after it left Kimbe for Lae on February the 2nd this year.

Don Wiseman has more

"The inquiry has already established the Rabaul Queen was heavily overloaded and this would have been evident to Mr Livinai if he'd boarded in Kimbe to assess whether it complied with its survey certificate. Mr Livinai told the inquiry, now sitting in Kimbe, he had been seeking to go on the vessel but the company failed to notify him of its programme. He says he'd asked the local harbour master a little over a day before the disaster to notify him when the ship was next in port, so he could check its compliance. But he got no response and didn't pursue the matter. Mr Livinai agreed with the lawyer assisting the commission, Manuel Varitimos, that failure to provide programme information may have been a sign the company had something to hide, and that should have alerted him to make a greater effort to ensure he got on board and made an assessment. Mr Livinai also told the inquiry the Kimbe office was significantly understaffed."