The National- Tuesday, January 18, 2011
PNG Ports Corporation Ltd (PNGPCL) and the Australian Reef Pilots Ltd’s (ARP) Jomard pilot transit transfer project has become a saviour of 39 people after their vessel sank in Milne Bay waters over the weekend.
The 30ft island trading and passenger vessel the mv Tunas sank last Saturday and all 39 on board (three crew members and 36 passengers) managed to swim to Bunora Island where they stayed overnight.
One of the passengers used an HF radio to call the Milne Bay rescue coordination centre who then contacted PNGPCL’s floating pilot accommodation base, the Undersea Explorer, on Sunday to ask for assistance.
Both the pilot boat Miralga and the Undersea Explorer, operated by PNGPCL in conjunction with the Australian Reef Pilots, made a 35 nautical mile journey late on Sunday afternoon to rescue the people stranded on Bunora Island.
Master of the Undersea Explorer John Ajam and Australian Reef Pilots quality manager on board, Peter Wright, were pleased to find everyone alive.
“Adults and children were suffering from hypothermia and dehydration and 27 were accommodated overnight at the pilot accommodation were due to be transported to a health centre by local vessel mv Ricjays for medical checks today (yesterday).”
PNGPCL chief executive officer Brian Riches, in praising the Jomard crew for the successful rescue operation, said the search and rescue operations was part of PNGPCL’s objective to have available the current floating pilot station or Jomard project.
Riches said other benefits of the PNGPCL Jomard project including sea-search and rescue were marine environment protection, safe navigation of capsised vessels,
security presence, government authority presence, tourism promotion, enhanced traffic monitoring, skill development of locals, transportation, medical evacuation, business and employment opportunities for locals and youth development and training.
The Undersea Explorer previously operated as a research and diving vessel out of Port Douglas.
It has been in Papua New Guinea since last June under the management of PNGPCL.