Solomons Captain And Crew Praised For Efforts During Sinking

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Solfish 001 passengers saved by quick-thinking

By Jeremy Inifiri

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, May 31, 2012) – In the Solomon Islands, the captain and crew members of the ill-fated marine vessel Solfish 001 have received much praise from the passengers' families, relatives and public.

This was for their combined effort in keeping all the 34 passengers alive after the four day ordeal.

The captain Michael Galo and his crew with the passengers arrived in Honiara from Kira Kira on Monday.

Men, women and children turned out in hundreds to welcome the second lot of survivors who arrived on Monday night just after 10pm on board patrol boat Lata.

The survivors were successfully rescued in the late hours of Saturday night.

A total of fourteen crew members and sixteen passengers berthed at the patrol boat base at Point Cruz a little after 11pm on Monday night to a jubilant reception by the crowds waiting for them outside the gates of the premises.

The first lot of survivors arrived earlier in the afternoon by plane.

Whilst disembarking from patrol boat Lata, the survivors were embraced into the welcoming arms of their relatives and colleagues, waiting for them at the wharf.

Other relatives and friends had to wait for them (survivors) to come out of the gate before embracing their loved ones with tears of joy.

The talk of the night however was on the heroic, bravery and professionalism of the vessel’s captain Mr. Galo and his fourteen crewmen.

Sensing the boat could not keep afloat he directed his crews just in time to discharge the five life rafts overboard and have it loaded with the passengers as the boat begun to take in water and sank.

Mr. Galo was said to be the last to leave the boat before it disappears beneath the ocean.

The cargo and passenger boat met its fate just after 4pm last Wednesday.

Unconfirmed reports from one of the survivors said the boat was loaded and when two huge waves crashed into the side of the boat caused it boat to take in more water resulting in the sinking of the boat.

And for nearly four days the crews and passengers just drifted along in five life rafts in the open waters before being rescued by a foreign cargo liner, Micronesian Pride of Swire shipping in the late hours of Saturday night.

"This is truly an emotional and historic day for the entire country, especially witnessing all 49 survivors onboard the sunken vessel Solfish 001, arrive safely back into the loving and welcoming arms of their family and friends.

"Most of us were worried that not all passengers and crewmen would have survived the ordeal, especially having drifted out the open sea for almost a week.

"We pay our uttermost gratitude to the vessel’s captain and his brave crewmen for their bravery and professionalism in making sure that all passengers survived.

"They sure well demonstrated their experience and I am sure will be rewarded by those responsible," a parent of one of the passengers said.

Whilst coming out from the premises gates, the captain and crewmen received a standing ovation by the crowds, some even rushed to hug and thanked them for their bravery.

Attempts to talk to Captain Galo on Monday night were unsuccessful, as Solomon Star believes that all survivors were still traumatized by the ordeal.

Apart from the captain and his crew, members of the public have also extended their gratitude to the local police, RAMSI, search and rescue authorities, Australian and French air force, and the airlines for the successful operation.

Meanwhile investigation into the cause of tragic incident is understood to be underway.

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