Breaches and Negligence: RFMF Investigation Findings

The Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) has concluded an investigation by the ‘Board of Inquiry’ into the grounding of the Republic of Fiji Navy Ship (RFNS) PUAMAU at the Fulaga Reef in the Lau group.

Commander of the RFMF Major-General Ro Jone Kalouniwai announced that a thorough examination of the incident revealed critical deficiencies in procedures and standards within the Fiji Navy’s maritime operations. The investigation particularly highlighted issues with navigation practices aboard the ship.

Major-General Kalouniwai stated that the Board of Inquiry’s findings indicated significant breaches, negligence, and a lack of adherence to professional navigation practices and mariner skills.

Further, the investigation revealed non-compliance with accepted bridge management practices by the Commanding Officer and his team. This non-compliance included failure to apply safety measures while navigating confined and hazardous waters near Fulaga Island.

The Board of Inquiry also noted the neglect of best mariner practices and processes associated with the use of navigation equipment for situational awareness and decision-making by the Commanding Officer and his bridge team.

In response to these findings, the Board of Inquiry has recommended several measures to address these deficiencies and enhance safety in future maritime operations. The recommendations include holding the Commanding Officer accountable for the ship’s grounding, ensuring comprehensive patrol briefings and navigational planning, implementing clear SSD procedures, providing all seaman officers with Navigation Books, enhancing situational awareness for commanding officers, and reviewing bridge procedures during entry into confined waters.

Major-General Kalouniwai affirmed the RFMF’s commitment to upholding the highest standards of professionalism and safety within the Fiji Navy. By implementing the recommendations from the Board of Inquiry, the RFMF aims to prevent similar incidents and ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of its maritime operations.

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