Questions over San Pedro crew

National, Normal


AN official investigation report into the sinking of cargo barge San Pedro has raised questions about the qualifications of some of the crew members.
The report, yet to be officially made public, also showed the vessel had vacancies for several top positions that had not been filled at the time it capsized.
It raised questions about who actually owned the vessel because documents gathered by the investigators did not clearly show who the real owners were.
Shipping sources said yesterday that the report was given to the Transport Minister and the National Maritime Safety Authority (NMSA).
However, sources said it was not known whether the matters raised by the investigators would be acted on.
Three senior NMSA officers carried out the investigation.
According to the report, the San Pedro left Lae bound for Port Moresby in the early hours of Aug 18 last year.
On Aug 19, it was reported to have capsized when the owner overflew the area where it had reported to be in difficulties.
It was floating upside down at 4.45pm off Orangerie Bay in the Milne Bay-Central border.
The report noted that no lives were lost in that accident.
“But there was some mystery as to who was actually on board the San Pedro when it capsized, and exactly who was rescued by the fishing vessel MFV Crystal 101,” the report said.
“The San Pedro owner and senior officers claimed that there were 13 people on board – 12 Papua New Guineans and one Filipino.
“However, there is conflicting evidence from most of the crew of the vessel and also the captain and crew members interviewed from the fishing vessel stated that they rescued 14 people – 12 Papua New Guineans and two Filipinos.”
Medical reports by the doctor of the ship’s owners Magellan Shipping confirmed that 14 people were examined – 12 Papua New Guineans and two Filipinos.
The investigation showed that at the time the San Pedro capsized, it had no statutory certificates that were recognised by the State, either on board the ship or in the company office.
It found that the statutory certificates that were presented to the investigation team were issued on behalf of the administration (NMSA) by a company called Pacific Register of Ships (PRS).
However, the report states that PRS had not been established as a “recognised organisation (RO)” and apparently was not up to the standard required by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to be recognised as an RO.
The purpose of the statutory certificates is to show that certain statutory minimum safety standards are being maintained in the operation of the ships.
The National contacted the media unit of the office of the Prime Minister for comment and was still awaiting a response.
The Prime Minister is the Transport Minister after former minister Don Polye lost his seat in Parliament.