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TC Josie caused delay

Ana Madigibuli
Wednesday, April 18, 2018

PATTERSON Brothers Shipping Company Ltd has highlighted the reasons behind their boat service cancellation during the Easter weekend.

Patterson Brothers Shipping Company Ltd spokesperson David Patterson said their Sunday (01/04/18) sailing was cancelled because of adverse weather caused by Tropical Cyclone Josie passing south of Fiji.

He said passengers who were to travel on Sunday were rescheduled to travel on Monday morning along with vehicles and passengers already booked for Monday (02/04/18) sailing.

"On Monday morning all three ships headed from Natovi to Nabouwalu. The first was Spirit of Harmony, followed by the Spirit of Love and the last to leave was the Spirit of Altruism," he said.

"Due to unforeseen and unexpected circumstances during the voyage on Monday the Spirit of Altruism (SOA) had engine trouble and drifted up against Cakau Davui (a coral patch off Dawasamu).

"As per our emergency procedures the closest sister ship, Spirit of Love (SOL) was directed to abort her sailing to Nabouwalu and turn around to standby with the grounded vessel for further assistance if required. All three ships were headed up to Nabouwalu and would have cleared all of the passengers without a problem had it not been for the unforeseen circumstances.

"At that time the Spirit of Harmony (SOH) was discharging passengers at Nabouwalu jetty. She was contacted to discharge her passengers and make her way at speed to standby the SOA so that we could transfer passengers. This is why the ship left Nabouwalu empty on Monday morning."

He said the emergency evacuation and salvage were both timely and successful with no casualties or loss of life.

"We then had passengers from Sunday, Monday and Tuesday for the Tuesday sailings. On Tuesday, we had no choice but to use both ships to clear off approximately 1250 passengers from Ovalau," he said.

"On Wednesday, we focused all of our attention on our Nabouwalu and Natovi route to clear off 80 per cent of the passengers and vehicles."

He said the series of incidents (adverse weather, Easter weekend holiday, mechanical issue and emergency evacuation exercise) compounded their situation.

"Phone lines were inundated with calls from passengers, media, government personnel and nosy members of the public that claimed to be representatives of government authorities," he said.

"These events heavily impacted our ability to contact passengers for organising as our staff members were also scrambling to reply to frustrated passengers.

"We have held a meeting and gone through all of the events and found ways to mitigate, streamline and better prepare for extreme and compounded situations - like the one we have just been through."

He said the company offered its sincere apologies to those that were affected by the delayed and disrupted sailings.

"We have been working hard day and night to right this situation. We have also offered to have letters made for those who have missed work to advise their superiors as to the reason why," he said.

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