Ship detained, master & owner to face charges
The ship that its anchor had damaged the submarine cable which subsequently disrupted the domestic connections to Malaita and to the Western and Choiseul Provinces is being detained and its master and owner are facing charges.
Director of Solomon Islands Maritime Authority Thierry Nervale said the vessel is also detained due to technical deficiencies including the absence of updated navigational charts.
Nervale stated that: “I cannot confirm how long the vessel will be detained but we are now considering charging the master and the owner for mismanagement that led to the damage of our submarine cable.”
He said when the incident was reported to SIMA, he immediately requested an inspection of the fishing vessel (Port State Control as it is a foreign vessel) on 12 May which led to the detention of the vessel.
Nerval added: “Based on the Port State Control result, I have caused a Preliminary Investigation into the cause of the incident.”
The investigation is still ongoing.
Meanwhile, speaking to SBMOnline today, Nervale said: “I do not think I will be able to express strongly enough our disappointment about what happened. As a developing country, it is a huge challenge to ensure our waters are safe and equipped with safety systems to protect our environment and assets. But in this case, the Solomon Islands Submarine Cable Company (SISCC) has everything in place to clearly mark the submarine cables and SIMA works with SISCC to ensure the marking of the submarine cable area is visible, communicated and functioning at all times.”
The purse seiner is identified as Fu Kuon No 808, which current anchors off Rove water-front.
SBMOnline was reliably informed by SISCC today that their lawyers are working on a case against the ship.
It is expected that a case will be filed next week.
SBMOnline understands that the ship engaged to repair the cable will not be here until late June (20 June) to start work on fixing the cable.
Services to the three provinces were affected and one of the providers, Telekom has recently informed that it is slowly restoring services. In its latest update, Solomon Telekom says ongoing in Malaita all services have been restored. For Taro, 2G and fixed lines working and progressing on 3G and 4G. For Wests, 2G, fixed and TTV working. Progress on 3G and 4G plus Noro 2G is ongoing.