The Samoa Shipping Corporation (S.S.C.) has launched an investigation into an incident, which saw MV Fotu Samoa II run aground at Salelologa last Thursday.
Sixty-four passengers and 13 vehicles were on the ferry when the weather turned, creating visibility problems leading to the ferry being stuck on the reef.
A journey that normally takes an hour and thirty minutes turned into nearly three hours of anxiety for the passengers and their families.
The incident was confirmed by the Managing Director of S.S.C., Papali’i Willie Nansen in an email response to questions from the Samoa Observer.
“The incident occurred on Thursday, 26th January 2017 when the vessel MV Fotu-O-Samoa II departed Mulifanua Port at 0600hrs for Salelologa Port,” Papali’i said.
“The vessel was carrying 64 passengers, 13 vehicles and 10 crew under the command of Captain Lolagi Mania Sagale and Chief Engineer Lemisio Lemisio.”
The voyage was smooth sailing until they approached the channel at Salelologa.
“The incident happened as the vessel was approaching and entering the channel at Salelologa Port at about 0730hrs when the weather suddenly changed with heavy rain, gusty winds and very cloudy (foggy) causing very poor visibility to identify channel beacons, markers and lights.”
Papali’i said the vessel continued to steam ahead at slow speed inside the channel due to unfavorable weather conditions, when she suddenly touched the reef on the right side of the starboard.
“The vessel was grounded for about 30 minutes and the Captain reversed the vessel to safety grounds and waited for good weather and clear visibility before they resumed, continuing the voyage for safe berth age at the wharf.”
The vessel berthed at Salelologa wharf at 8:40am.
“There was no passenger injured or any vehicle damaged as a result of this incident. All passengers and vehicles were safely dispatched upon arrival,” said Papali’i.
“The matter was reported to the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure as the local Maritime Administration under the Samoa Shipping Act 1998 responsible to conduct an investigation/inquiry to determine the cause and the nature of this incident.
“An underwater inspection was immediately carried out by S.S.C. Technical Staff to identify if the vessel sustained any major damages and that urgent repairs were required, however, dents and scratches were identified but not serious.”
Papali’i said he couldn’t clarify any reasons as to why the incident happened.
“That is the main objective of the investigation; it is to determine, identify, confirm and prove the actual cause of the incident.”