MV Rabaul Queen Incident update
2:30pm AEDT Thursday 2 February 2012
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is currently providing assistance to the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre which is coordinating a rescue involving a passenger vessel, the MV Rabaul Queen.
The vessel is reported to have sunk approximately nine nautical miles (approx. 16 km) off Finschhafen, while on a voyage from Kimbe to Lae, PNG. There are believed to be 350 people on board.
At 07:25am AEDT today, AMSA’s Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC Australia) received an initial satellite detection of a distress beacon belonging to the passenger vessel MV Rabaul Queen. This information was immediately communicated to the PNG Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre.
AMSA consequently broadcast a message to shipping in the area and requested shipping to advise of their ability to respond and estimated time of arrival. A number of vessels responded and six merchant vessels are currently on scene, four of which are recovering survivors.
In addition, three local helicopters are on scene searching for survivors and relaying location details to the vessels.
The master of one of the vessels, the Mol Summer, has been appointed on scene coordinator and has reported that approximately 50 people have been rescued so far.
AMSA’s dedicated search and rescue Dornier aircraft based in Cairns has now arrived on scene. The Dornier has multiple life rafts on board and the capability to drop them to survivors in the water.
Further fixed wing aviation search assets have also been tasked by AMSA, including an Australian Defence Force PC3 Orion aircraft (due on scene at approximately 4pm AEDT) and AMSA’s Darwin-based Dornier (due on scene later this afternoon). Both of these assets are capable of aerial stores delivery including life rafts.
AMSA is further assisting the PNG Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre by providing search area planning and drift modelling.
AMSA and the Australian Government Crisis Coordination Centre are working closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby.