By Samisoni Pareti
A ROLL ON – ROLL OFF ferry had to abort its voyage to Suva last night and returned to Savusavu after it developed a leak and listed badly to one side.
Welders are now working on plugging the leak on the bow of the Lomaiviti V – a ferry belonging to Goundar Shipping.
Its not known when the repair would be completed and when the ferry would resume its trip to the capital city.
Passengers aboard the Lomaiviti V told IB Online that rough seas reportedly damaged the doors of the ferry’s bow. Water began to seep into the car deck and the boat began to list dangerously to one side, one hour after it departed Savusavu.
Whilst an announcement aboard the boat’s public address system was made for members of the crew to attend to the incident, passengers said no one attended to them, nor did they get any announcements from the ship’s captain .
Some passengers began to search for lifejackets on their own. Some others asked for the boat to return to Savusavu.
The Lomaiviti V was reportedly carrying about 400 passengers.
George Goundar, owner of Goundar Shipping was unavailable to comment on the incident today. But Captain Philip Hill, CEO of the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji told IB Online that his office has been informed of the incident involving the Lomaiviti V.
He said rough weather caused the leak in the ship and the crew is doing repairs at the Savusavu Wharf, where the Lomaiviti V is berthed.
“Once the repairs are done and when the weather at sea improves, the Lomaiviti V will continue onto Suva,” added Captain Hill.
The boat is the latest acquisition of Goundar Shipping. Although it was built 54 years ago, the ferry was bought from BC Ferries in Vancouver, Canada last year reportedly for US$2.3 million.