A safety crew had tried to contain the fire using skills they had learnt over the last three days at the Pacific Community domestic ship safety training workshop, and the fire simulation was the culmination of some of what they had learned.
“The ultimate object of the programme is to impose safety through the implementation of the safety management system,” says Pacific Community ship safety audit adviser Omirete Tabureka.
The training programme began in 2010 after two tragic accidents aboard domestic ships in Tonga and shortly after in Kiribati the year before.
“A lot of people lost their lives and this is the product that came from the need to introduce safety procedures, said Tabureka.
“We deliver a workshop and safety management system manual and the goal is general safety awareness.”
Another maritime accident in Kiribati earlier this year happened on a ship owned by a new operator who had not implemented a safety plan.
Tabureka says there are mandatory safety measures for bigger ships but not for domestic vessels.
From 2013 the programme was extended to eight other islands including Tonga, Kiribati, Marshall islands, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Samoa and Fiji and finally this year, the Cook Islands.
This is the first time the programme has come to the Cook Islands and it is the 10th island where the programme has been presented.
“We keep going back to the other countries, to check that they have implemented the safety operations plan manual and we will do the same here,” says Tabureka.
The initial pilot programme was funded by Australia and then the SPC, and for the next three years the New Zealand government will fund the programme, which will extend to Tokelau, Papua New Guinea and Palau.
“Once the programme becomes functional in each country, it is expected that they will take ownership of the programme themselves and run their own training and do the audits themselves,” says Tabureka.
Director of Maritime, Ngatokorua Ngatokorua Jnr, says the workshop and the safety training will be particularly important for the people of the pa enua, and it is a matter of all domestic ships to put into practice the safety measures introduced.
He says while some ship owners may be reluctant to introduce the safety measures, it will be cheaper and easier for them in the long run to keep up to date.
“Our main aim is the safety of domestic shipping in the Cook Islands.”