MV Liahona II Owner Baivatu Apologises to Passengers

Vessel on strict ‘No Sail’ instructions.
24 Apr 2019 15:36
MV Liahona II Owner Baivatu Apologises to Passengers
South Island Traders managing director Ulaiasi Baivatu on April 23, 2019. Photo: Ronald Kumar

South Island Traders vessel MV Liahona II, Managing Director Ulaiasi Baivatu has apologised to passengers who were onboard the vessel when it encountered a mishap on its Kadavu trip last week.

The vessel docked into Walu Bay wharf last night with strict instructions from Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji not to take in passengers upon its return to Suva.

The vessel is on a ‘no sail’ order as investigations by the MSAF and relevant authorities are being carried out.

The MV Liahona II had lost its ramp on its voyage and had started to take in water. Thanks to quick action by Captain Akuila Cama and his crew, the vessel, carrying 112 passengers, managed to reach Kadavu safely.

Mr Baivatu said: “I must apologise to those passengers who were present that day when we had that situation out at sea. It was something beyond our control but I am happy we managed to get the passengers to safety and the vessel now back in Suva.”

MV Liahona II crew members at the Port Mua-i-Walu on April 23, 2019. Photo: Ronald Kumar

MV Liahona II crew members at the Port Mua-i-Walu on April 23, 2019. Photo: Ronald Kumar

He was also onboard the vessel when it happened saying that passengers’ safety was the first priority when the ramp was lost.

“The waves that hit the vessel were huge and we could not turn around even though we were closer to Suva than to Kadavu,” said the vessel owner.

With a few frustrated passengers onboard, Mr Baivatu said the Captain kept that course because the vessel was floating and moving forward and he was the best person to make that decision after liaising with his officers.

“The Captain had a meeting with the chief engineers and senior officers’ on what options to make and decided on the action plan to take so we trusted his final decision,”

With the steadfast crew on standby calming the situation, the three watertight doors were locked tight not to allow any waves getting into the vessel under the captain’s new vessel course.

“The captain made a decision not to turn because if we had to turn the huge waves would come directly inside the ship so the only option was to go sideways with the waves and continue on the course in order to ease the vessel towards Kavala,” said Mr Baivatu.

“It is an experience I will not forget because I had my children and a lot of my relatives onboard so the safety of our passengers was a must and a top priority,”

The vessel will continue repair works and installing of a new ramp that will take two weeks to be fixed.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

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