RFNS Puamau submergence on Fulaga Reef

RFNS Puamau submergence on Fulaga Reef

By fijivillage
Wednesday 19/06/2024

RFNS Puamau quickly takes in water and faces a high chance of sinking.

RFNS Puamau hits reef in Fulaga Lau

By Mikaele Liga, Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 11/06/2024
The Fiji Navy fleet Patrol Boat, RFNS PUAMAU has hit a reef and is stranded in Fulaga Lau ( Supplied)

The Fiji Navy fleet Class Patrol Boat, RFNS Puamau has hit a reef in Fulaga, Lau and is stranded there at the moment.

The Republic of Fiji Navy acknowledges the recent grounding incident involving their patrol boat that was midway through a two-week patrol tasking.

They say their utmost priority is the safety and welfare of all crew onboard and safely recovering the vessel.

A crisis management team has been assembled to oversee the situation, with emergency support crews enroute and secondary support arrangements underway in collaboration with their partners. The Fiji Navy says as their focus remains on ensuring the safety of personnel and recovery of vessel, additional information will be disseminated from HQ Navy as it becomes available.

Under the Vuvale partneship between Fiji and Australia, the navy boat was a huge step up in strengthening Fiji's security in mitigating transboundary related illegal activities.

The vessel is named after late Able Seaman Timo Puamau, a Nayau, Lau sailor who died on board a naval vessel that torpedoed in Solomon Island waters at the peak of World War II in the Pacific.

Stay with us for developments.

RFNS Puamau crew en route to Suva for salvage operations and counselling support

By Iliana Biutu
Friday 14/06/2024
[Image: Republic of Fiji Navy]

The Fiji Navy has confirmed that the crew of the RFNS Puamau is currently en route to Suva and their primary focus is on conducting salvage operations with extreme regard for environmental safety, while also providing counselling support for the crew and their families.

They say the challenging conditions of the Fulaga passage in Lau underscores the need for thorough planning and proactive measures with salvage experts to address potential contingencies.

Additional recovery equipment and resources are being mobilised, including specialist equipment from overseas, to facilitate the safe removal of fuel and storage before initiating vessel extraction from the reef.

The Fiji Navy says the bulk of salvage resources are anticipated to arrive by this weekend, and a team of Navy divers and engineers continue to monitor the vessel.

They also acknowledged the Australian Government, Pacific Maritime Security Program, and local and regional partners for their unwavering support throughout this endeavour .

They add that they are now attentive to the feedback and discussions circulating in various media platforms and social media on the circumstances leading to this regrettable incident, which will be comprehensively investigated and understood through due process.

Australia Defence Force provides aerial support to evacuate crew members of RFNS Puamau

By Mikaele Liga
Thursday 13/06/2024
[Image: Republic of Fiji Navy]

Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration Pio Tikoduadua says he does not want to speculate anything on the grounding of the RFNS Puamau at the moment, but he is glad that all the crew is safe.

Tikoduadua said on fijivillage Straight Talk with Vijay Narayan last night that their main priority is to salvage the vessel so it is back in operation.

The Fiji Navy fleet Class Patrol Boat RFNS Puamau that struck a reef in Fulaga has received additional aerial support from the Australian Defence Force following the safe evacuation of all crew members.

The Fiji Navy which says above all else, the focus remains on the recovery of the vessel ensuring the safety of all involved.

According to the Fiji Navy, concurrently, damage control teams comprised of Navy divers and Navy engineers, are effecting temporary fixes and devising strategies for the removal of all fuel and the patrol boat’s de-storing, with aerial and surface assessment.

Additionally, they have confirmed the absence of any oil spills.

The Fiji Navy says the crisis management team continues to oversee the operation from HQ Navy in collaboration with key stakeholders. Furthermore, efforts have also pivoted towards providing support for the crew and their families and salvage planning, led by salvage experts, is currently underway, acknowledging the challenging conditions presented by the reef passage, which may necessitate phased approaches.

They say despite the challenges, all endeavours are being coordinated with key stakeholders.

The RFN expresses its sincere gratitude to the villagers of Fulaga Island, fellow mariners, the Australian Defence Force, and stakeholders whose steadfast support has been invaluable.

RFNS Puamau slowly takes in water on the reefs in Fulaga

By Mikaele Liga
Saturday 15/06/2024

As the Republic of Fiji Navy welcomed RFNS Savenaca along with the crew of RFNS Puamau last night, salvage works in Lau seems impossible as the boat slowly takes in water.

According to the Navy, the oncoming salvage operations, set against a backdrop of favorable weather forecasts for the next few days, will prioritise safety, fuel extraction, and the careful recovery of the vessel from the reef, with a steadfast commitment to minimising environmental impact.

They say the Crisis Management Team and contracted salvage subject matter experts, have also mapped out contingency plans to tackle potential issues, while also recognising the challenging conditions surrounding the passage at the reef.


Furthermore they say the logistical challenges , including the distance of Fulaga from Suva, interim measures will be implemented post-reef recovery until a dedicated salvage vessel arrives in the country.

Minister for Home affairs and Immigration Pio Tikoduadua shared on fijivillage Straight Talk programme with Vijay Narayan that he is hoping the vessel will be salvaged so they can be used for operations.

Stay with us for developments.

Independent Board of Inquiry to investigate grounding incident of RFNS Puamau - Commander Kalouniwai

By Vijay Narayan
Monday 17/06/2024
Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Major General Ro Jone Kalouniwai

The Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces, Major General Ro Jone Kalouniwai confirms the RFMF has decided to convene an independent Board of Inquiry to investigate the recent grounding incident involving RFNS Puamau in Fulaga, Lau.

Major General Kalouniwai says the decision to initiate this independent Board of Inquiry stems from the significant monetary value of the affected vessel, valued at around $20 million, and the recent commissioning of RFNS Puamau into the Fiji Navy Fleet within the last month.

He says it is imperative for the RFMF to demonstrate their commitment to transparency and accountability by thoroughly examining the mishap in terms of processes and procedures.

Major General Kalouniwai says while acknowledging the internal investigations conducted by the Fiji Navy, the RFMF believes that an independent Board of Inquiry will enhance the thoroughness and objectivity of the inquiry, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the incident.

He adds their primary goal is to prevent similar occurrences in the future and uphold the highest standards of safety and operational excellence within the Fiji Navy.

The RFMF appreciates the support and cooperation of all stakeholders as they embark on this independent investigation process.

Further updates and information regarding the findings will be disseminated in due course.

All fuel removed from RFNS Puamau

By Mikaele Liga
Friday 21/06/2024

All fuel from the RFNS Puamau has been removed as of today.

According to the Fiji Navy, the salvage re-assessments are currently being conducted in collaboration with the Navy salvage team supported by RFNS Savenaca and Navy divers.

They say since the grounding, only the stern compartment experienced water ingress, which has been isolated and currently being managed and the vessel’s position and stability on the reef's outer edge slope continues to be monitored by the Navy salvage teams.

The Navy says weather and tides continue to be factored into the recovery efforts and are being closely monitored by the planning and salvage team as changes in weather will impact recovery timelines.

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