PNG Ferry Owner Arrested Again For Unseaworthy Vessel

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Facing trial for Rabaul Queen sinking, now charged over Kimbe Queen

By Grace Tiden

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, March 1, 2016) – Owner of the ill-fated MV Rabaul Queen Peter Sharp has been arrested again.

His arrest comes after a two-week investigation led by Chief Sergeant Robert Wane following the recent incident, involving Sharp’s other passenger vessel the MV Kimbe Queen.

Sharp and MV Kimbe Queen captain Eugene Kutao from the Autonomous Region of Bougainville were arrested and charged yesterday afternoon in Kokopo, East New Britain Province.

According to Chief Sgt Wane, Sharp was arrested and charged with sending an unseaworthy vessel out to sea while his captain was charged with taking an unseaworthy vessel out to sea.

Both were refused bail by police yesterday and it is believed their lawyers will be applying for bail at the Kokopo National Court today.

The MV Kimbe Queen had left the Rabaul Wharf on December 22 last year bound for Bialla, West New Britain Province, and Lae and on board was 49 passengers and 12 crew members. Most of the passengers were students.

According to Chief Sgt Wane, the vessel struck a reef somewhere near Lassul Bay, west of Rabaul about 2am the next day.

The passengers were given life jackets and had to board life rafts in bad weather, following the grounding of the vessel.

According to some passengers, they had to abandon the ship because its stern was already submerged in water.

By 4pm on Wednesday, almost 14 hours after the MV Kimbe Queen struck the reef, the Radtulip 888, a fishing vessel owned by Lae-based company Frabelles Limited, came to their rescue. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured.

The passengers were brought back to Rabaul on Thursday, December 24 last year.

The two men are expected to make their first court appearance today.

Meanwhile, Sharp and the others who were charged over the tragic sinking of the MV Rabaul Queen in February 2012 will stand trial in the Kokopo National Court in April.

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