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Navy Seeks Blessings To Refloat SHIP

Navy Seeks Blessings To Refloat SHIP
RFNS KULA TO THE RESCUE... The RFNS Kula (left) attempts to salvage the RFNS Kiro yesterday. Photo: Paulini Ratulailai
July 23
13:52 2016

Muanaira Village elders in Vutia, Rewa, have given their blessings for the successful salvage of RFNS Kiro on Cakauyawa Reef near Makuluva Island, off Suva.

This after a delegation of Fijian naval officers presented yaqona in a traditional ceremony at the village community hall on Wednesday night.

Turaga-ni-koro or village headman Irame Tubuna confirmed the ceremony. He said about 10 seamen came to the village. Village elder Simeli Waibuta received their offering on behalf of the Vanua.

Mr Tubuna said the naval officers sought apology on the grounding and the possibility of an oil spill that could affect marine life and the villagers’ food source. He said they also sought blessings from the vanua to successfully salvage RFNS Kiro.

“We have accepted their request and given our blessing,” Mr Tubuna said.

He said the reef was part of the traditional fishing ground of the villagers that included Nukulau and Makuluva islands. The islands are now owned by the State.

RFNS Kula with a complement of 17 seamen was in waters close to the reef yesterday but adverse weather conditions and high sea swells slowed the salvage operations. Some of them, seamen, divers and engineers could be seen on board RFNS Kiro assessing the situation. A support team is based at nearby Nukulau Island onboard another naval vessel, waiting for the signal to go in and help.

RFNS Kiro ran aground on the reef last Friday. Thirty-one crew members were rescued. RFNS Kiro is one of the five  vessels of Fiji Naval Squadron overseeing the patrolling of Fiji’s 200 mile exclusive economic zone.

Both Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and Republic of Fiji Military Forces Commander Rear Admiral Viliame Naupoto assured there would be an inquiry to ascertain what happened.

Edited by Nemani Delaibatiki


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