Mechanical failure detains ferry passengers

Travelers on the MV Fotu-O-Samoa II ferry from Mulifanua to Salelologa, Savai’i found themselves stuck on the vessel when its crew were unable to open its ramp to let them disembark. 

The short ferry trip, which left Mulifanua at 10am and was scheduled to leave Salelologa at 12pm yesterday, was cancelled due to the mechanical problem. 

When the MV Fotu-O-Samoa II arrived in Salelologa the crew members had problems opening the ramp. 

Passengers were forced to get off the boat on the side using a set of portable stairs instead of the front ramp path also used by vehicles. 

Drivers, by contrast, had to remain on the ferry as crew members tried to resolve the issue to release their stranded vehicles. 

A news reporter from the E.F.K.S. T.V., Pa’I Mulitalo Ale, was scheduled to leave Salelologa on the return trip but got cancelled. 

She said there were about five family-owned cars on the boat and three delivery trucks. 

Mrs. Ale said drivers were finally able to drive off the boat later in the afternoon once the ramp was opened. 

Some travelers scheduled to leave the 12pm boat had attended the Samoa Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity and marketing project (S.A.F.P.R.O.M.) launch in Savai’i. 

In response to queries from the Samoa Observer, Samoa Shipping Corporation (S.S.C.) General Manager, Papali'i Willie Nansen said the MV Fotu-O-Samoa II trip to Salelologa from Mulifanua at 10am encountered some engine problems. 

“This was a result of a cooling fresh water line burst open and water went through the electrical panel and wet most of the electrical components inside the panel including circuit breakers, which cause the automatic shutdown of the generators which powers the hoisting and lowering of the ramp,” he explained.

“The electrical panel was wet which triggered the circuit breakers to cut-off the power supply hence the ramp not working upon arrival due to generators being shut down.”

The General Manager said upon arrival in Salelologa, the engineers dried-up the electrical panel components including circuit breakers with the power being restored about 30 minutes later.

“The ramp was operational but not faulty, the reason why it stuck was that there was no power to operate the lowering of the ramp upon arrival.”

Papalii assured that the ramp worked after engineers fixed the problem and passengers and vehicles onboard were able to disembark safely without any casualties. 

 Asked about the last time the vessel underwent maintenance service, the General Manager said it is done every Wednesdays and Fridays. 

However, he said due to the MV Fotu-O-Samoa engagement in American Samoa last week there was limited time for maintenance upon arrival hence the unfortunate event. 

He said this is inevitable due to the vessel’s age. 

“However, thorough inspections are carried out by Flag and S.S.C. periodically to ensure these vessels complies with all the required safety standards.”

 The MV Fotu-O-Samoa II was back to her normal schedule taking the 4pm trip from Salelologa to Mulifanua, 5th Thursday March 2020 carrying 3 trucks and 6 small vehicles.

A notice from S.S.C. on Thursday said the cancellation of the Salelologa to Mulifanua afternoon trip was due to mechanical issues with the vessel's ramp. 

The corporation apologised for any inconvenience caused the general public. 

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