Overload led to barge sinking

National, Normal


THE ill-fated cargo barge, San Pedro, was overloaded when it capsized last year in Central province waters, the official investigation has found.
It has recommended that a marine inquiry into the capsizing and subsequent sinking last year.
The investigation by the National Maritime Safety Authority, yet to be made public, also revealed that the vessel had insufficient stability and under-qualified officers on board “who were not confident about their ability and knowledge to solve the problems that they faced as the situation developed”.
The report said the vessel was unsafe under the Maritime Safety Act section 94 and section 103.
The investigators also found that that there may have been confusion in opening and closing valves that may have caused essential ballast water to be transferred or pumped out.
“The evidence shows that the vessel took an angle of loll that was increasing, and the vessel was gradually becoming less and less stable until it capsized,” the report said.
It said there was no crew member on board who was qualified to operate the radio transmission and that there was some communication problem and understanding between the Filipino engineer(s) and the Papua New Guineans.
“It is the responsibility of the shipowner to maintain his vessel in a seaworthy condition at all times …
“He has a duty of care to his crew, to the cargo owners (shippers), to the insurers and to the environment to show due diligence,” the reported noted.
Overall, the investigators found that the San Pedro did not have the proper statutory certification, was overloaded, had insufficient stability and had personnel on board holding certificates of competency at a lower grade than that required for the function they were performing on board.
The investigation showed that since the introduction of the International Safety Management (ISM) Code, shipowners and managers of shipping ventures ashore had been given greater responsibility to ensure that the safety management of their operations is up to the standards required by the code.
The report said some questions remained unanswered, including:
* Did the owners/managers knowingly send the vessel to sea in an unsafe condition?
* Is the evidence concerning the registration and mortgage of the San Pedro reliable? and 
* Is the evidence concerning the draught on sailing reliable?