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RFNS Kiro ‘Totally Destroyed’

RFNS Kiro ‘Totally Destroyed’
July 13
10:31 2018

The General Court Martial against four Fijian Navy officers over the grounding of the RFNS Kiro in July 2016 has heard that the vessel was totally destroyed as a result of their actions.

The General Court Martial heard yesterday that as a result of their actions the vessel was no longer operational.

Lieutenant Commander Saula Tuilevuka, Lieutenant Samuela Cikaitoga, Lieutenant Ben Salacakau and Ensign Mike Brown will be sentenced next Friday (July 20, 2018).

The ship ran aground on July 14, 2016, on Belcher Rock near Makuluva Island and Nukulau Island.

During proceedings yesterday for the sentencing brief, Judge Advocate Lieutenant Colonel Jiten Singh said the maximum sentence was two years imprisonment.

He said the aggravating features were that as a result of the officers’ neglect the Fijian Navy currently only has one vessel in operation.

Lieutenant Colonel Singh stressed that as a maritime island nation the need for a well-resourced navy in Fiji was essential.

Referring to a United Kingdom case involving a war ship called the HMS Nottingham, which was cited by the Prosecution in their sentence submission, Lt. Col. Singh said the vessel in that case was retrieved and repaired.

The HMS Nottingham was a Royal Navy Type 42 destroyer which ran aground near Lord Howe Island, 600km off the coast of Australia in July 2002, causing £26 million ($F71.8m) worth of damage.

However, Lt. Col. Singh said, the RFNS Kiro was a total loss.

He said fortunately no lives were lost, even though the accused’s lives and those of the men on board were put at risk.

The court heard that because of the seniority of the first three accused men as Maritime Commander, Commanding Officer and Executive Officer there was a greater degree of responsibility to lead the junior officers by example.

Lt. Col. Singh said the four officers showed genuine remorse when they pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity and fully co-operated with investigations.

During their mitigation they also conveyed their desire to continue serving in the Navy.

He stated that 23-year-old Ensign Brown was still young and was not trained with the ship’s navigation system.

Ensign Brown only went on the trip because he was rostered to do so.

Edited by Epineri Vula

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