24 Dec 2013

Management of sunk ferry in Solomons deny orders were defied

3:18 pm on 24 December 2013

The management of the MV Francis-Gerena, which sank last week, has denied reports that the ship's captain defied orders not to sail.

Jack Kii, on behalf of HP Shipping, told the Solomon Star no detention order was issued to the captain before the boat sailed from the capital Honiara for north Malaita.

Mr Kii claims two police officers visited the vessel last Tuesday night to see the captain but left when told the captain had not arrived.

He says the captain was not informed or made aware of any detention order, and categorically denies there was any disobedience.

Mr Kii says if a detention order had been issued, marine officers would have pinned the order on the mast of the vessel, as is practised in any jurisdiction as a matter of global maritime policy.

But the Maritime Safety Administration's acting director Timothy Harris says those in charge of the ship should have adhered to the order to dock at the police wharf and not to leave port.

An inquiry is being launched into the sinking of the vessel, which was carrying more than four times its legal number of passengers.

The fact that all survived has been described as miraculous.