Derelict vessels

The MV Mystique Princess. Picture: REINAL CHAND

REMOVAL orders have been issued to owners of two derelict vessels that have been without service on the Lautoka harbour for a couple of years.

The orders were issued by the Fiji Ports Corporation Ltd under the guiding Seaports Management Act 2005 which gives the authority powers to order the removal of derelict and/or a dangerous vessel.

The MV Mystique Princess and the MV Gotta Go Fiji have been out on the Lautoka waters for a couple of years now.

“The MV Mystique Princess has been moored here at Lautoka port for the last four years,” Lautoka Harbour Master Captain Pena Yauvoli said.

“We have been liaising with South Seas Cruises, the owner of MV “Mystique Princess” since regarding the vessel’s condition, when we prepare for an approaching cyclone and also regarding her removal from the Lautoka port boundary.

“According to the owner, they are keeping the vessel in good condition as they are looking at selling her.”

A few months ago, Fijian Holdings Ltd chief executive officer Nouzab Fareed confirmed interest have been shown from local and international market to buy off the MV Mystique Princess.

He added the almost 24-year-old vessel had done a huge job for Blue Lagoon Cruises and it needed a huge refurbishment which would cost the company about $F12 million.

Captain Yauvoli said the MV Mystique Princess was considered derelict because it did not possess a valid Survey Certificate from MSAF neither she had a “minimum crew manning on board” to duly enable her full operational during times of emergency.

Mr Yauvoli added despite being given the removal order, South Sea Cruises still insists that they will sell the vessel soon.

“To date, nothing has eventuated and we are closely monitoring her hull conditions and moorings.

“Fiji Ports is fully aware that a stranded vessel is harmful to marine life and on the same token, Fiji Ports is equally aware that salvaging a derelict vessel is an expensive exercise. This is why Fiji Ports is adamant on the principle of “polluter pays”.

“Unfortunately, the owners are failing to remove their vessels as per their duty of care. However, given the strange situations that we are faced with, both for Suva and Lautoka we are having no other option but to try and remove derelict vessels on our own.

“This is why, as a way forward Fiji Ports is looking at a “derelict removal package” for a salvage company to remove all derelicts at a reasonable cost and this option is currently weighed by the FPCL management.”

For the past 14 months, the Mystique Princess has been up in the market for sale and there have been interests from Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the international market as well.

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