Tuesday 22 August 2023, Salelologa, Savaii Samoa. An inter-island vessel travelling from Upolu to Savaii, fully loaded with passengers and cargo, ran aground at approximately 11:06am on Monday morning at the entrance of the Salelologa channel.
The MV SSC Fasefulu had left Upolu at its scheduled time of 10am, carrying approximately 80 passengers who were the first focus of a swift rescure operation carried out by Samoa Shipping Corporation’s local technical team.
The stranded passengers were all taken to shore within two hours of the vessel going agound, carried to shore by small boats.
A staff member who responded to queries from Samoa Global News said all passengers had been moved safely to shore as quickly as possible.
In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, Minister of Transport Hon Olo Fiti Vaai, said he wished to acknowledge the members of the public who were affected by the incident.
“I apologize for any inconvenience caused, and wish to convey our utmost appreciation for your patience and understanding during the duration of the Corporation’s recovery works.”
Passengers had posted the incident on social media when it occurred. One passenger told Samoa Global News that they never felt unsafe, because they could see Salelologa wharf, and the staff acted professionally throughout the ordeal to bring them safely to shore.
“The operation was smooth and proficient, and we’re just glad our cars have been brought safely to shore also.”
The SSC technical team managed to perform the repair works, and by 7:30pm the MV SSC Fasefulu, purchased in celebration of the SSC’s 40th birthday, was brought back to dock at Salelologa wharf.
“The vessel is now watertight and has been able to sail back to Apia,” confirmed a statement by the Minister.
The Minister detailed the rescue operations and procedures. “Normal emergency procedures were followed through by the Captain and crbyew to await technical assistance. The technical team and divers boarded the vessel later on that same day and commenced the assessment. A plan was formalized with the discharge of ballast waters, transfer of bilge waters and fuel to lighten the ship.”
“The vessel was free from aground position at 7.30PM on same day. All vehicles were safely
offloaded shortly after.”
The Minister also confiirmed, contrary to social media comments, that the MV SSC Fasefulu was not run aground at the same location where the Nafanua patrol boat incident occurred in 2021.
There were no associated costs, other than services that were rendered to assist in the recovery operation, said the Minister.
The Ministry of Transport’s Maritime Division has launched an in-depth investigation into the matter.