norgas cathinka

Skaugen’s Norgas Cathinka Ship and Crew Held “Hostage” in Indonesian Legal Limbo

Rob Almeida
Total Views: 33
February 17, 2013

At 0540 local time on Wednesday 26 September 2012, the Indonesian ferry, KMP Bahuga Jaya, owned by PT. Atosim Lampung Shipping, sank after colliding with the Singapore-registered LPG/Chemical carrier, Norgas Cathinka.  In Skaugen’s year end financial results, they provide the latest update regarding the investigation and the current status of the ship and crew.

*3rd Update* Via Skaugen – 16 Feb 2013

“We do sincerely regret the loss of lives and we do consider it an avoidable accident that should not have happened and we regret the part we played in it. The ferry Bahuga Jaya was 40 years old and evidently not maintained for its trade and it was probably unseaworthy and did most probably sink for reasons of fatigue or construction failures.  The sinking caused in our views the loss of lives and not the collision itself.  The loss of lives was also caused by the lack of proper procedures on the ferry to evacuate passengers in an emergency and with inadequate lifesaving procedures and equipment.

The available data from the VDR data (Black Box) on our ship makes it possible to reconstruct the events leading to the collision. From this it is evident that our vessel is not the vessel that caused the collision. The aftermath has also proven to be very challenging due to a far from transparent juridical process in Indonesia and we are still waiting for the ship and its crew to be released. The long delays in release of the ship are costly for our Company and the loss of earnings amount to USD $400,000 / month with full operational cost of the vessel with full crew and with cargo of liquefied gasses on board.  This complex and not very transparent process in Indonesia makes it appear much more like a “hostage situation”. It is needed to designate the most senior management` attention on settling the issues, with support from and in cooperation with the insurance companies we have, and that is also difficult for a smaller company like ours.”

Previously reported (from September 2012)

Norgas Carriers Private Limited released a statement on 27 September confirming its managed vessel, the Norgas Cathinka, is now anchored safely at Merak Roads, Indonesia and that investigations into the incident are continuing.

The master of the Norgas Cathinka, its chief officer and an ordinary seaman are continuing to assist local police in their investigations into the incident in which the vessel was in collision with a Ro Ro Passenger ferry which later sank.

Norgas Carriers has appointed a leading firm of international maritime consultants to conduct an independent investigation and the National Transportation Safety Committee of Indonesia has now assumed responsibility for the independent inquiry into the incident.

Local reports continue to say that eight people are still missing presumed dead.

Local reports alleging the Norgas Cathinka did not stop immediately following the incident were quickly quelled by Norgas Carriers who stated today, “The company wishes to point out the Master has reported the Norgas Cathinka stopped as soon as it was safe to do so following the incident.”

Allegations to the contrary, they note, “is speculation and does not help in the authorities’ efforts to conduct a fair and impartial investigation.”

Morits Skaugen, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of IM Skaugen, said today: “Our sole aim here is to ensure that the absolute truth comes out about the events which led up to the accident on September 26.

“It is our firm intention to co-operate in every way we can with the on-going investigations in Indonesia. It is important the investigation is impartial and contains all the facts.”

“I believe the outcome of the investigation will uncover the full truth of the incident and that our Master did everything he could under the circumstances after the incident.”

Norgas Carriers, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of IM Skaugen, also confirms the existence of a Voyage Data Recorder (“Black Box”) on the ship’s bridge and the data from this will be jointly taken from the ship in the presence of Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee representatives.  The Harbour Master at the Port of Merak and his technical representatives will also be present at this hand over.

norgas cathinka
Image courtesy I.M. Skaugen

The collision occurred in the Sunda Strait near the port of Merak, Indonesia.

ship collision sunda strait merak indonesia

The initial report is as follows:

The master of the Norgas Cathinka has reported the crew and vessel are safe, but that a number of passengers on the ferry are reported missing.

According to the Indonesian Transportation Ministry, eight people have died as a result of the collision with 208 reported survivors.  The ship’s manifest showed a total compliment of 213 passengers and crew, however Indonesia ship manifest records are notoriously inaccurate due to tickets being sold on board and unregistered passengers.

Structural damage to the Norgas Cathinka was reported by the ship’s master, however according to the company’s statement, there has been no ingress of water and the ship is in no danger of sinking.  The vessel is carrying a cargo of Propylene.

The following is video showing a few of the survivors being rescued, 10 nearby vessels responded to the distress call.

I.M. Skaugen told reporters this afternoon [26 September] that the Norgas Cathinka will be evaluated by Flag State and Classification society surveyors to confirm the seaworthiness of the vessel and the integrity of the cargo. Upon such approval, the vessel will then be relocated in cooperation with the authorities to a safe anchorage when the investigation into the incident will continue.

Morits Skaugen, IM Skaugen’s Chief Executive Officer, commented, “I wish to personally place on record my regret and sorrow over this sad and unfortunate incident.

I also wish to offer my condolences to the families who have lost loved ones today and stress again that as a responsible ship owner for almost 100 years, it will be our company’s absolute duty to discover the truth about how this happened.

We shall be unstinting in our efforts to discover the facts of the incident and we are giving full co-operation to the investigations into the incident which continue”.

The Norgas Cathinka is now anchored off the port of Bakauheni, Indonesia.
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