In heavy weather last week, the passenger vessel, MV Rabaul Queen, owned by Rabaul Shipping, capsized and sank off Papua-New Guinea. 246 people were rescued, yet over 100 passengers are presumed dead.
The Australian Maritime Safety Administration (AMSA) praised the efforts of a number of merchant vessels involved in the high seas rescue.
AMSA would like to thank the merchant vessels, Australia Government and private aircraft, and local PNG helicopters for their assistance in the search.
AMSA commends all of the ships that responded to our distress broadcast over the four days of the incident and which, together, saved 246 people that otherwise almost certainly would have been lost. A list of ships involved is below.
â€¢ MOL Summer
â€¢ MSC Carole
â€¢ Zong He
â€¢ Cap Scott
â€¢ Alcem Lugait
â€¢ C. Oasis
â€¢ Hanjin Duesseldorf
â€¢ Lily Fortune
â€¢ Coral Ruby
â€¢ Vega Fynen
â€¢ Bougainville Coast
â€¢ Kyowa Orchid
According to a Bougainville Radio Station however, the 3 remaining vessels owned by Peter Sharp, Chief Executive of Rabaul Shipping, have been seized by excombatants and grieving relatives of the missing. The Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) has fully disassociated itself from the activities of these excombatants and has no part in the holding of these vessels.
Excombatants holding on to three ships owned by Peter Sharp will not release them until all the fate of Bougainville passengers are released to them. They told the meeting with Bougainville chief administrator that they were not happy with the communication breakdown between the shipping company and the families of those who lost their lives.