The National – Monday, February 14, 2011
By SAMUEL RAITANO
THE PNG Ports Corporation Ltd and the National Maritime Safety Authority are both taking a shipping company to court for leaving its grounded ship at the Lae port causing navigational hindrances to other vessels and polluting the marine environment.
Starships Ltd, under whom the grounded mv Kuanua was registered, denied owning the ship claiming that it had already sold the vessel to another individual who, in turn, had it sold to a scrap metal company, and therefore, was not responsible for removing it.
However, the National Court in Waigani found that in a statement of agreed facts, Starships Ltd was the owner of the ship.
The plaintiffs, through their lawyer, argued that there was no formal notification made to the registrar of ships that the defendant (Starships Ltd) had transferred the registration of the ship to the buyers involved, while pointing out that it (Starships) should remove the vessel.
Starships Ltd in return claimed that the ship was grounded, which meant it was no longer seaworthy and therefore, was not seen fit to require registration even by its new owners, thus causing unnecessary inconvenience for Starships to take responsibility of the vessel.
Starships Ltd pushed for the court to dissolve the case as it had already sold the vessel and was wrongfully blamed, claiming that it had documents on the bill of sale and a declaration of transfer of ownership in place.
Given the fact that the registration of the ship was made under Starships Ltd, the court questioned the credibility of the materials that it (Starships) relied on, as it appeared that the documents were not stamped by the authority issuing them.
The ship, weighing 500 tonnes, would require a sizeable amount of money to be dismantled and removed.
A ruling will be made on the matter this week.