Bad weather stops naval ship from docking

Australian naval ship H.M.A.S. Sirius was not able to dock at the Matautu wharf in Apia early in the week due to bad weather.

H.M.A.S. Sirius Commanding Officer, Melanie Verho, told Samoa Observer on Monday that they were negotiating for a time to dock on Tuesday but that did not happen due to bad weather. 

"The unseasonal weather experienced in the recent days resulted in delays to commercial movements with the MV Coral Chief arriving in the morning of Monday 01 July with a scheduled departure of 2pm on Tuesday 02 July.  

"I fully understand the importance of commercial movements in and out of the Port of Apia and would always afford these movements top priority to an island nation," she said.

The ship initially arrived early morning last Saturday but was unable to come into port at that time, due to the presence of MV Coral Chief at the country's largest port.

The H.M.A.S. Sirius carries 70 navy officers who are assisting in the the Pacific Games preparations, particularly the Games Village at Faleula.

Samoa Ports Authority Chief Executive Officer, So'oalo Kuresa So'oalo, told this newspaper Wednesday that the port was available and it was up to naval ship as well as the weather. 

"No that call is up to them (on whether they dock), depending on the winds and waves but the wharf is available.

"Yes, there were negotiations but they (Australian Navy) deliberate whether or not it is suitable for them to come in so they make the call. 

"If the waves or winds are too strong they make the call for themselves to stay anchored because even the port officers are standing by 24 hours," he said.

So'oalo reiterated that it is the Australian Navy's call also based on the safety of their vessel.

This was confirmed by Commanding Officer Verho, who said the decision was made to remain at anchor on Tuesday but to send the working party personnel ashore to continue with their assistance of the local authorities. 

"Bringing the H.M.A.S. Sirius would have defeated the purpose of the work parties coming to Samoa to spend as much time assisting with Games Village preparations.

"While the M.V Coral Chief departed earlier than expected (late morning), Sirius was unable to weigh anchor and come alongside for the afternoon without pulling all the working parties away from their tasks ashore.

"However, my commitment remained to provide as much support to the P.G. organisers as possible and in this case, that was best achieved by remaining at anchor," she said.

H.M.A.S. Sirius will depart Samoa on Thursday. 

Despite not being able to berth at the Matautu wharf, Commanding Officer Verho said her naval officers have thoroughly enjoyed their time in Samoa and are proud to have made a contribution to Samoa's hosting of the Pacific Games. 

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