Fiji Navy Faces Accountability After Patrol Boat Grounding

The Republic of Fiji Military Forces Board of Inquiry has determined that the Commanding Officer and his command team are responsible for the grounding of the Fiji patrol boat RFNS Puamau.

In a statement, Major General Ro Jone Kalouniwai outlined several recommendations to address the issues identified. These include holding the Commanding Officer accountable for the grounding, ensuring comprehensive patrol briefings and navigational planning, implementing clear Standing Search and Rescue (SSD) procedures, providing all seaman officers with Navigation Books, enhancing situational awareness for commanding officers, and reviewing bridge procedures when entering confined waters.

Major General Kalouniwai noted that a thorough examination of the circumstances surrounding the incident revealed significant deficiencies in the procedures and standards of the Fiji Navy’s maritime operations, especially concerning navigation practices aboard the ship.

The findings from the Board of Inquiry indicated substantial breaches, negligence, and a lack of adherence to professional and accepted best bridge management practices by the Commanding Officer and his command team, particularly under the specific environmental conditions near Fulaga Island.

The inquiry also pointed out that some of the best mariner practices and processes related to the use of navigation equipment for situational awareness and decision-making were ignored by the Commanding Officer and his bridge team.

Major General Kalouniwai emphasized the RFMF’s commitment to maintaining 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 in the future and ensure the continued efficiency and effectiveness of their maritime operations.

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