Ro/ro Goes Down Off Suva

File photo

By MarEx 2015-11-25 09:58:00

The 3,600 grt ro/ro vessel Suilven listed, capsized and sank at the entrance to Suva's harbor on November 23, within a few cables of its destination. All hands aboard were rescued by the harbor's pilot vessel, the first on scene, and by local emergency teams.

The Suilven had about 30 containers and several trucks aboard. Local media quote police officials giving a count of 27 crew and four truck drivers rescued; additional statements by crew suggest there may also have been engineering cadets aboard at the time of the accident, and the initial survivor count was reported to be 34 in total. Authorities say that there were no casualties.

An investigation is ongoing, but reports suggest that a lashing failure on the containers may have been a contributing factor. First responders said that containers had shifted as the vessel began to list.

Two truck drivers aboard at the time of sinking told media that they were lucky to be alive, as the vessel capsized within ten minutes of the time it began to list.

The Suilven began life as a passenger vessel in Scotland in the 1970s, and was sold to a New Zealand company in 1995 for ferry service between the North and South Islands. In 2004 she was purchased by a Fijian company for use as a cargo ship, and was transferred to current owner Venu Shipping in 2012.

Venu's owner, Ben Naidu, confirmed that the vessel was carrying only cargo and had no passengers aboard. He had no comment on the cause of the accident or the ongoing investigation.