7 Jun 2012

PNG Rabaul Queen probe ends after weeks of sittings

1:13 pm on 7 June 2012

The inquiry into the sinking of the Papua New Guinea ferry, the Rabaul Queen, has ended, with the ship's captain being called arrogant and disrespectful.

The Commission of Inquiry into the sinking, in which more than 140 people are believed to have died, has been sitting since April.

Megan Whelan reports.

"The lawyer assisting the commission, in his closing submission, said the evidence shows the underlying reasons for the tragedy result from arrogance, apathy, lack of accountability over many years, complacency and incompetence manifesting as gross negligence. Manuel Varitimos told the Commission that while the National Maritime Safety Authority should not escape criticism, Captain Sharp's evidence demonstrates total disrespect for the deaths of so many passengers aboard the vessel, and their families. However, Captain Sharp's counsel said while he is a man of forthright views, he is a highly experienced mariner and a surveyor. Erik Andersen said the Princess Ashika case hangs heavily over the Commission, but unlike the Ashika, the Rabaul Queen was properly maintained, and the tragedy was caused by it being hit by three rogue waves."