AN Australian man and his Papua New Guinean companion were plucked to safety from rough seas in the waters of Gulf last week – thanks to Oil Search Ltd’s staff at its Kumul Marine Terminal (KMT).
Greg Rogerson, 54, of Perth, Western Australia, and Murray Kitera, 47, were en route to Daru from Port Moresby in an 18-foot catamaran when rough winds and high seas nearly over-turned the boat and caused engine problems, according to the National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA).
It went off course, forcing the duo to send a distress signal at about 8am last Wednesday which was picked up by tug-boats operated by Oil Search located at KMT.
NMSA rescue officer Fred Siroi sent out the calls for assistance to ships operating in the area and appointed the KMT team headed by Capt Michael Desa – the marine terminal superintendent – as the temporary search and rescue (SAR) co-ordinator.
Desa dispatched his first tug boat, mv Redel Tide, under poor weather conditions and visibility.
It went out under heavy showers and thunder but could not pick up the catamaran, Knuckle Daly, on its radar even though it reported its position as 30 miles to the west of KMT.
By about 10.30am, upon receiving a GPS location from the Knuckle Daly, Desa recalled Redel Tide and dispatched the second tug-boat, D’souza Tide, to the new location east of the KMT, its second reported position of distress signals.
Eventually at about midday, D’Souza Tide made contact with the stricken vessel, a light surf fibreglass catamaran, with “very tired and dispirited men” who survived horrendous night of high swelling waves that threatened to over-turn the boat on several occasions.
Rogerson and Kitera were taken onboard D’souza Tide to recover from hypothermia and their boat was towed to a safe anchorage near the KMT.
The next day the two men set sail toward Daru after repairing their boat.a