24 May 2012

PNG's Rabaul Queen probe hears from NMSA

12:13 pm on 24 May 2012

The Commission of Inquiry into the sinking of the Rabaul Queen in Papua New Guinea has heard of a poor relationship between the ship's owner and the National Maritime Safety Authority.

The commission has now heard five weeks of testimony into the tragedy which is thought to have claimed more than 200 lives when the ship sank sailing from Kimbe to Lae.

Megan Whelan reports

"The Commission heard from Christopher Rupen, the Chief Executive Officer of the NMSA, who described the relationship with Captain Peter Sharp as extremely poor. He said having worked in the maritime industry since 1976, the relationship between the Department of Transport and Captain Sharp has been very bad for years. Mr Rupen told the Commission that the NMSA operates under considerable funding constraints, and suggested there should be an independent body to investigate maritime incidents. The Commission also heard from Fred Siroi, the NMSA's senior coordinator of search and rescue, who said he alone was responsible for conducting maritime search and rescue operations for a country of more than seven million people."