FERRY operators Rabaul Shipping have hit the headlines again after its ferry, mv Kimbe Queen, ran aground on a reef in Bialla waters, West New Britain province, yesterday morning, The National reports.
The incident comes just 20 days after its sister ship the mv Rabaul Queen sank in heavy seas off Finschhafen, Morobe province, claiming at least 180 lives.
The mv Kimbe Queen, which departed Lae on Sunday, took on passengers in Bialla on its way to Rabaul when it ran aground.
The number of passengers on the vessel is yet to be confirmed.
Police said all the passengers were safely evacuated with the assistance of boats provided by the Hargy Oil Palm Industry Company.
No injuries were reported.
The ship was refloated later in the day during high tide and returned to the Bialla wharf.
West New Britain police and National Maritime Safety Authority officials plus WNB disaster officials were at the scene with Rabaul Shipping managing director Peter Sharp.
New Guinea Islands divisional police commander Supt Anton Billie confirmed the incident and said he was waiting for a report from provincial police commander Thomas Reu who was in Bialla.
The vessel departed Lae on Sunday with 30 passengers bound for Kimbe.
It berthed at Bialla wharf until yesterday morning.
At around 6am, it began its journey to Rabaul after taking on 26 passengers.
National Maritime Safety Authority chief executive Chris Rupen said Rabaul Shipping vessels were by-passing Kimbe, the normal stopping point between Lae and Rabaul, for Bialla.
He did not give any reason.
An NMSA inspector based in Kimbe had gone to Bialla, which is a three-hour drive from Kimbe, to investigate and report back, Rupen said in an email.
Three weeks ago, the Kimbe Queen, with about 170 passengers on board, was forced to abandon its journey to Port Moresby from Alotau, because of bad weather