9 Feb 2010

Witness astounded that ferry was allowed to sail

10:17 am on 9 February 2010

A witness on Monday told the Royal Commmission investigating the sinking of a Tongan ferry he was astounded it was signed off as seaworthy by Tonga's marine director.

The Princess Ashika sank last August with the loss of 74 lives.

The marine manager of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, John Hogan, said it was incomprehensible that Tonga's marine director, who listed the ferry's deficiencies, would also let it sail.

He told the inquiry that if the ferry had been surveyed in Fiji prior to purchase, it would have failed and not been allowed to leave port.

Captain Hogan said the evidence indicates the ferry was a disaster waiting to happen.