On the 10th February 2012, by virtue of the powers conferred in Section 2 of the Commission of Inquiry Act (Chapter 31) and other powers, the Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O'Neill, CMG, MP ordered an Inquiry into the sinking of Rabaul Queen.
TERMS OF REFERENCE
The matters to be inquired into and reported upon by the Commission pursuant to the terms of reference were:
- The facts about the disaster which occurred at about 5 am on 2 February 2012 in relation to the capsizing and the sinking of Rabaul Queen nine (9) nautical miles off Finschhafen in the Morobe Province and the accompanying search, rescue and recovery of the disaster victims;
- The cause of the disaster;
- Evidence leading to any criminal act contributing to the disaster;
- Evidence leading to any civil responsibility for the disaster;
- The reason why the loss of lives attained such magnitude;
- Present proposals for any measure that would help to prevent the future occurrence of a similar disaster, or may assist in future search, rescue and recovery of disaster victims; and
- Make any further recommendation arising from the inquiry.
COMMISSIONER AND COMMISSION STAFF
Judge Warwick Andrew CBE, CRH was appointed Commissioner
Pursuant to Section 15 of the Act, the Commission shall make a report of its proceedings and the results of its inquiry to the Prime Minister and shall record the reasons for its conclusions.
The Secretary to the Commission was Mr Mathew Yuangu.
Mr Manuel M. Varitimos and Mr Emmanuel Asigau were appointed as Counsel Assisting the Commission. Both Counsel Assisting have been instrumental in the assembly and presentation of evidence to assist the Commission so that it could properly inquire into and report upon the matters subject of the Terms of Reference. The efficient running of the Commission’s hearings, to a large part, was attributable to the hard work, diligence and commitment of Counsel Assisting.
The Commission wishes to acknowledge the invaluable and outstanding assistance it has received from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB). Shortly after the accident, the Australian Government, through its Prime Minister, offered to provide any assistance to Papua New Guinea that it could give. Thereafter, the Papua New Guinea Government requested assistance in the gathering of evidence and the provision of technical assistance to the Inquiry. Within days, the ATSB established a technical investigation team and they conducted inquiries in Papua New Guinea, Japan and Australia.
Special thanks are due to Mr Stephen Curry and Captain Greg Chaffey, both Senior Transport Safety Investigators with the ATSB. These officers have worked tirelessly on behalf of the Commission of Inquiry and their professionalism and expertise have been invaluable. The Commission acknowledges their outstanding contribution.
A website was created at the time of the Inquiry: www.mvrabaulqueen.com.