A report compiled by New Zealand investigators into the sinking of the Tongan ferry Princess Ashika has found the vessel was in such a bad state it should not have been operating. The ferry sank during an overnight voyage from the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa to an outlying island in August last year, killing 74 people.
A New Zealand Transport Accident Investigation Commission report, released yesterday, said the vessel had “major deficiencies” and should not have been allowed to operate. “The Princess Ashika was unseaworthy when it departed on the accident voyage and should not have been issued with a certificate allowing it to operate under any circumstances until major deficiencies had been rectified,” the report said. The report found the death toll was so high because of the delay in raising the alarm and the lack of an emergency abandon ship drill. The NZ commission said it was asked by the king of Tonga to conduct a technical investigation into the disaster. Earlier this year, a Royal Commission of Inquiry in Tonga found the country’s government failed its people by buying a ship that was obviously unseaworthy. The inquiry’s report, released in April, found the ship was aged, overloaded and unfit for the open sea, and pointed at senior government and state shipping officials as responsible for the disaster. In March, police charged Shipping Corporation of Polynesia managing director John Jonesse, Princess Ashika captain Makahokovalu Tuputupu and first mate Viliami Tu’ipulotu with man laughter and with sending an unseaworthy vessel to sea.
Full report available at http://www.taic.org.nz/