A marine officer for Tonga's Marine Imports Division says the Princess Ashika was falling apart well before the disaster in August.
Sione Mafi Molasike Kavaliku was appearing before the Royal Commission of Inquiry investigating the sinking of the ferry, which claimed 74 lives.
Jo O'Brien reports.
"Sione Kavaliku told the commission he visited the ship on the first of July, expecting it to be in a good condition, but found rust and corrosion. He says he was walking up a ramp, and a handrail pulled apart in his hands. Mr Kavaliku told the Commission he believed buying the Ashika was a waste of time and money, and it should never have sailed from Fiji. He says when the surveyors found 3 pages of deficiences with the ship, they tried to stop the Ashika sailing, and informed the Acting Director that it was in a very bad condition."