Removal Of Tovuto Cost $205,000

The cost of the removal of the sunken Government vessel the MV Tovuto from the Government Shipping jetty at Walu Bay was in excess of $205,000. Fiji Ports Corporation Limited
14 Sep 2016 10:23
Removal Of Tovuto Cost $205,000

The cost of the removal of the sunken Government vessel the MV Tovuto from the Government Shipping jetty at Walu Bay was in excess of $205,000.

Fiji Ports Corporation Limited (FPCL) chief executive officer (CEO) Vajira Piyasena confirmed to the Fiji Sun that the first attempt was awarded to Fiji Shipping Services Limited and it failed because the company lacked resources and expertise.

“The first attempt cost us $80, 000,” he said.

The second attempt he said was awarded to Cruz Holding Limited at the cost in excess of $125,000 and this was successful.

According to Mr Piyasena this has created a lot of space for vessels and barges to berth easily at the government jetty.

The MV Tovuto sunk at the Suva harbor near the Government Shipping Services (GSS) shipyard in 2010.

The former Government Hydrographic Survey Vessel MV Tovuto was successfully towed and scuttled two weeks ago facilitated by Fiji Ports Corporation Limited.

Mr Piyasena said despite the cost FPCL had taken the initiative to remove the derelict.

He said the government had sold the MV Tovuto vessel to a scrap metal company dealer. They cut the top part of the vessel and use the other part.

Mr Piyasena admitted that the vessel had caused obstructions and they were happy that it was cleared.

“It’s our commitment to remove the derelict from the harbor,” said Mr Piyasena.

He said last year the government had requested FPCL to remove the vessel from the Suva harbor.

The MV Tovuto was successfully scuttled 1.4 miles South West of Suva main passage at a depth of between 250 to 300 meters of water.

Government Shipping Services Acting Director Josese Lawaniyasana has acknowledged FPCL for the successful removal of the vessel from the GSS ship yards.

“Now with the removal of reck Tovuto there is a lot of maneuvering space for the landing crafts to berth,” he said.

Prior to that, Mr Lawaniyasana said there was not enough space for the berthing.


Background of the MV Tovuto

provided by Captain Felix


The vessel was built at Carrington Slipways in Australia in 1972 under Lioyd’s Class.

In 1985 it was mothballed in Singapore due to the downturn in oil exploration.

At this time the Royal Fiji Military Forces Naval Division (RFMFN) was looking for a hydrographic survey vessel to conduct surveys in the Fiji’s Exclusive Economic Zone in order to satisfy the countries obligations under Regulation 9, Chapter V of the “International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)” where member states are required to provide necessary maritime safety information and hydrographic data for the safe navigation of ships in the member states EEZ.

In 1986 the Fiji Government realising the importance of the responsibility vested in it by the SOLAS Convention, approached the Australian government for assistance.

It was agreed that Australia would fund the procurement of a suitable survey vessel for the Fiji Hydrographic Unit (FHU) utilising the Australian Defence Cooperation Programme funding.

Commander Robert Wilson(Royal Navy), the Chief Hydrographer heading the FHU at the time together with Commander David Lane (Royal Fiji Navy), the then Commanding Officer of the Fiji Naval Division set about finding a suitable vessel.

In October 1986 the Eugene McDermott was located in Singapore and purchase plans were proceeded with.

In November 1986 a detachment of Fiji naval personnel departed Fiji to start bringing the vessel back into Class and sail it back to Fiji.

The team was headed by Commander Robert Wilson (Royal Navy) in charge of administration and management of the refit programme, Lieutenant Commander Inoke Luveni in charge of mechanical and electrical engineering, Warrant Officer Joe Kacilala as Chief Engineer and Lieutenant F. Maharaj as Detachment Commander and Commanding Officer of Her Majesty’s Fijian Ship Babale.

The ship was refitted brought back into Class, Loyds 100A1, commissioned in Singapore by the Australian High Commissioner to Singapore and sailed for Fiji via Darwin for a Courtesy call on ANZAC day 1987.

They were met by senior military officers and the commanding officer Lieutenant F. Maharaj made a courtesy call on the Lord Mayor of Darwin Dr Gurde who surprisingly new Fiji well as he had done service in Fiji as a medical practitioner.

Babale after leaving Darwin proceeded to Fiji via the Torres Strait and arrived in Suva on the morning of 11th of May 1987.

It remained in service within the Royal Fiji Military Forces until December 1989, when Cabinet decided that it was necessary to transfer HMFS Babale together with the Fiji Hydrographic Unit to the Fiji Marine Department and become part of the civil service

After transfer to the Fiji Marine Department in January 1990, command of the ship was handed to Captain J Rounds and re-named RV Tovuto as the name Babale was already on the Fijian Registry. Later Captain Pauliasi Vakaloloma and others followed, taking command of the vessel which continued whenever it was allowed to, it undertook hydrographic survey work which was its prime role.


Notable Surveys Conducted

using Tovuto

There were many development surveys conducted by survey teams from the ship during her life in Fiji. The most notable was the Japan International Co-operation Agency and the Government of Fiji Project/ During this period the offshore sea area extending from Cikobia off Udu Point, to Kabara Island ending at the upper southern Lau Group, was survey resulting in three major nautical charts were produced to international standards.

These being F52, F53 and F54.  These charts now allow safe navigation for any size vessels within the area that has been surveyed, and allows for large cruise vessel visits, to those area.

Another notable survey was the Wairiki, Bua, survey of the suitability for development of a wood chip wharf in the area.

The survey which was to find safe access and bulk carrier of Panamax size to safely navigate to Wairiki in order to load wood chips for export to Japan. The area was surveyed and a suitable route was demarcated.

Other co-operation surveys were conducted with the South Pacific Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) located on Meade Road Nabua. One which involved he dredging of precious corals in 3000 meters deep water and another discovery of previously unknown geo-physically important undersea features in the northern side of the Yasawa Islands.


VIPS that travelled

Captain Maharaj reminisces that those days of conveying statesman like Ratu Penaia Ganilau and his wife Lady Bale were the most pleasant times.

Ratu Penaia would join the boys for some kava and provide advice to all before departing the Babale for his home in Somosomo the humble chief would send root crops and fish for the boys Christmas meals. He would say “don’t leave until I go up to my plantation and I will harvest some root crops and arrange fish for you all”.

Sadly the ship he loved carried his body back to Somosomo for burial under the command of Captain J Rounds.  Later Ratu Mara took a liking to the ship and would take his entourage on voyages.

Sadly he too was taken on the ship, under the command of Capt Pauliasi Vakaloloma who had accompanied him on many of his voyages to Tubou, Lakeba and also for chief’s burial on.

After speaking with those that had given so much time to carrying out research on Fiji’s precious EEZ, and listening to their stories, Capt Maharaj said it is realized why much more has to be done by way of hydrography, oceanography and other sciences so needed to keep this precious resource sustainable for future generations and why so much more needs to be done for safety of lives of those that sail the seas.

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