The Cabinet is considering a Commission of Inquiry into what caused the Police Patrol Boat Nafanua II to run aground on the reef off the coast of Salelologa three weeks ago.
The Guardian-class patrol boat valued at $30 million tala commissioned in October 2019, was provided as part of Australia’s defence cooperation with Samoa under the Pacific Maritime Security Program. At the time of the incident, the Nafanua II was in Savaii as a part of Samoa’s police response operations during a Human Rights Protection Party car rally amidst the ongoing political impasse between the country’s two main political parties. As was widely publicised on social media, there was community unrest on that day as gunshots were fired and the HRPP car rally forced to turn back from villages who refused to let them pass.
During the weekly post-cabinet press conference, Hon Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa said there are existing laws to guide investigations into what happened to Nafanua II.
The Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructure (MWTI) are investigating under Maritime Laws, and the Ministry of Police have launched an internal investigation of staff directly involved during the incident, under procedures of its Professional Standards Unit (PSU).
“E lua tulafono o lo’o faia ai sues’ue’ga – o le Matagaluega o Galuega Tetele o loo iai le tulafono o mata’upu o va’a; ae maise foi o le Matagaluega o Leoleo o latou lea e nofo ai le va’a, e iai foi le latou sue’su’ega e faasino i le tulaga o e sa faafoea le vaa i lena taimi.”
Despite these two separate investigations into what caused the Nafanua II to become stranded on the reef, the PM said Cabinet had still discussed the possibility of a Commission of Inquiry, because of the mere value of the asset. “And also, the Nafanua II was not funded by our government. It was a gift from the government of Australia,” said the Prime Minister. Fiame said if a COI was to be conducted, findings of the
The Prime Minister also set aside speculation that the recent resignation of Samoa’s Police Commissioner was related in any way to the Nafanua incident or the Commission of Inquiry.
In a live interview with the Minister of Police, Hon Faualo Harry Schuster said if there was to be COI into the Nafanua II, it would not focus on Su’a, but rather on the incident, “because it is $30 million tala asset”.
The Minister of Police also confirmed that a plan to salvage and repair the Nafanua II was already in place. “We now know that it can be repaired, and plans are underway with the assistance of Australia”.
Australian specialists on a salvage mission arrived into Samoa last Friday on a repatriation flight from Sydney, and are currently being quarantined.