Fiji Siren Not To Be Salvaged

Fiji Siren, a 40metres long and 9.7metres wide professional dive liveaboard is unlikely to be salvaged from the Bligh waters where it sunk early Wednesday morning. This was confirmed by
18 Nov 2017 12:49
Fiji Siren Not  To Be Salvaged
Fiji Siren

Fiji Siren, a 40metres long and 9.7metres wide professional dive liveaboard is unlikely to be salvaged from the Bligh waters where it sunk early Wednesday morning.

This was confirmed by Sales and Marketing Manager, Worldwide Dive and Sail, Mik Jennings.

Worldwide Dive and Sail owns and operates a range of diving, sailing and cruising yachts across Asia and the Pacific including the Fiji-registered Fiji Siren.

“It’s not likely that a salvage will occur. After the boat lost power she drifted into deeper water and was in at least 250m of water when she went below the surface,” Mr Jennings said.

Whether the yacht may have struck a sunken reef could not be confirmed by Mr Jennings.

“At this point we can’t be 100% sure of what the vessel struck. From our incident report, directly after the impact there was no reef on the navigational plotter and looking over the railings there was nothing obvious below the surface. Further investigations may reveal more in the fullness of time but I wouldn’t like to speculate.”

He said all but one client who was on board the yacht had departed Fiji.

According to Mr Jennings their focus now is contacting future clients and making sure that they can re-arrange their bookings in order to enjoy their vacations.

Fiji Navy operations officer Lieutenant Commander Timoci Natuva said they received a call from the Namena Dive Shop, that the Fiji Siren struck an outlying reef causing it to take water.

He said the only alert they received about the incident was from an Australian Emergency Position Indicator Radio Beacon (EPIRB).

He said there were 13 local crew members and 16 tourists on board the yacht when it took on water.

“The crew and tourists were forced to abandon the yacht. They boarded their dinghies and moved across to Namena Island Resort. They arrived safely that same morning,” Lieutenant Commander Natuva said.

He said by the time they received the information the tourists and crew were already safe on land.

Namena Island Resort manager Nigel Simpson confirmed that those on board the yacht arrived by dinghies.

“They are all safe and I took them across to Savusavu.”

Captain Philip Hill,  Manager Safety, Compliance and Response of the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF) said they had removed the oil and there was no pollution in the area.

Operations manager Dive Fiji, Jonathan Smith said the incident was the first of its kind to happen in Fiji waters.

But Mr Smith was optimistic that it would not affect tourists who were after this niche market. Two other such liveaboard dive boats are in operation in Fiji waters, Sere Ni Wai and Nai’a.

Fiji Hotel & Tourism Association President Dixon Seeto said he was glad that everyone on board was safe.

The Fiji Siren had departed from the Volivoli Beach Resort on Viti Levu at 1pm and should have returned to the same port at around 10am on the last day of its seven days cruise.

On its Facebook page, Volivoli Beach Resort stated that they are currently conducting a full and thorough investigation.

“No guest or crew member was injured during this incident and we commend the actions of our team for following our stringent emergency training protocols which resulted in the swift evacuation and handling of the situation.”

On the Siren Fiji website, a chronology of what transpired was posted:

Wednesday November 15, 2017

At around 1am in the morning there was an impact on the vessel that caused a breach in the area of the engine room while cruising. Crew members immediately dived under the vessel and applied pre-mix epoxy in an attempt to try to stem the flow and all water pumps were activated (two main pumps and two portable pumps with a combined capacity of close to 4,000 litres or 4 tonnes per minute) to remove water from the vessel. At this point Fiji Siren headed towards land and placed emergency calls on channels 16 & 72 which to our understanding were, unfortunately, not answered.

By 2am it was clear that not enough water was being cleared by the pumps and so it was decided to call guests to muster in life jackets with only their passports and any medication that they might require. They were then evacuated to land with the diving skiffs along with non-essential crew where shelter was provided. Some of the remaining crew then went to work removing as much of the guest’s property as possible, as well as their own items, boat and crew documentation, and tender fuel. Other crew members were, of course, still trying to save the boat.

By 5.30am the main water pump had failed due to loss of power caused by the water in the engine room, however, the fire pumps were still running at full power with additional fuel being brought for them by Namena Divers. There were multiple dives carried out to try and stem the breach further, which were sadly unsuccessful.

By 7:15am it was decided to remove all crew except the captain and cruise director.

By 10am the Fiji Siren sank below the surface of Bligh Waters off Namena Island.

Edited by Rosi Diviverata


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