By ELIZABETH VUVU
STEEL work replacement on the hull of the ill-fated Rabaul Queen was allegedly not fully completed when the vessel was removed from the RD Fishing PNG Slipway at Vidar in Madang in Oct 2011, the ferry trial was told yesterday.
In the dock were ferry owner Peter Sharp and Anthony Tsiau, both facing charges of manslaughter and sending or taking an unseaworthy vessel out to sea.
Pascalis Kapou, from Bali Island in West New Britain, and who is a welder with RD Fishing, said the Rabaul Queen had undergone dry-docking at Vidar situated in the north coast of Madang at the RD Fishing PNG Slipway in October 2011. Kapou and his three other workmates were instructed by their supervisor to inspect the ship and do some steelwork to replace damaged parts of the hull and repaint it.
He said they paid special attention to the water inlet located on the starboard side of ship’s stern.
The welding repair work was done twice and the ship was put out to sea to test if the repair work was successful.
It was then discovered that there was too much pressure a metre away from the repaired areas on the hull and repair work had to be done.
“The owner of the ship, Capt Peter Sharp, refused and did not want us to conduct a third repair work.
“He, instead, wanted cement to be mixed to cover the cracks and to let the vessel go back to Madang,” Kapou said.
Kapou said Sharp made this known through a conversation with his supervisor at the slipway.
He said the slipway supervisor, an engineer, told Sharp to let the repair work be completed.
However, Sharp’s response was that it was already a waste of his company’s business hours and that the ship would return to Madang wharf to pick up passengers to travel to Kimbe and Madang, Kapou said.
Defence lawyer Philip Kaluwin put to Kapou that in his statement given to police in 2013, he did not mention who Sharp spoke with on Oct 25, 2011 and now Kapou said Sharp had this particular conversation with the supervisor.
Kapou maintained and was certain that he saw Sharp having a conversation with his supervisor because he was an engineer and it was only right for Sharp to get the supervisor’s view before removing the ship from the slipway.
Defence lawyer Robert Asa said it was possible that such a conversation did not take place at the slipway on Oct 25, 2011 between his client Sharp and the supervisor as Sharp had left Madang on Oct 21.
“I did not know who Sharp was but our boss told us and I myself saw my boss speak with the white man Sharp and I recognise him as the white man sitting over there,” he said referring to Sharp in the dock.
Justice Terrence Higgins told Asa that the matter of whether this conversation took place would be determined in due course and suggested that Air Niugini records be checked.
Kapou and RD Fishing radio operator Rex Guinoo were the only two witnesses from Madang that testified yesterday.
The trial resumes today.
By ELIZABETH VUVU