Cruise-ship damages Raja Ampat reef

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Cruise-ship damages Raja Ampat reef

Some 1600sq m of coral at the Crossover Reef site in the Indonesian scuba-diving hotspot Raja Ampat has been severely damaged by a British-owned cruise ship, which drove into it at low tide on 4 March.

The 90m, 4290-tonne Caledonian Sky, owned by British tour operator Noble Caledonia though Bahamas-flagged, was on a bird-watching cruise between Papua New Guinea and the Philippines with 102 passengers and 79 crew aboard when it ran aground on the reef near Kri, according to a report in the Guardian.

The Caledonian Sky was only slightly damaged, but an Indonesian evaluation team reported that the damage to the reef was made even worse when a tugboat from Sorong helped to refloat it without waiting for high tide. The cruise ship, which was said to be fully equipped with modern navigation devices, departed following questioning.

In a statement, Noble Caledonia described the incident as “unfortunate” and said of the incident that it was “firmly committed to protection of the environment, which is why it is imperative that the reasons for it are fully investigated, understood and any lessons learned incorporated in operating procedures.”

The investigators are due to file an official report, and are understood to be recommending that the company pay as much as US $1.9 million in compensation in view of the extent of the damage. The money would be used to revive the reef, although a spokesman said that that process could take up to a decade.

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