The M.V. Lady Northcote encountered very rough weather en route to Kumaka, North West District on Tuesday and the army coastguard and an aircraft were put on alert after authorities lost contact with the vessel for 12 hours.
According to the Transport and Harbours Department (T&HD), while the Northcote was making its way to Anna Regina, it began experiencing difficult weather conditions, which resulted in the shifting of some deck cargo and the breaking of a plank, which is used to secure the vessel’s gangway.
At the time the vessel was carrying 98 passengers and 11 crew members.
The T&HD stated that the vessel was buffeted by high waves, which caused some water to seep into the engine room. This water was immediately pumped out.
The captain of the vessel reportedly made contact with T&HD and the Maritime Administration Department (MARAD) in Georgetown, informing them of the weather conditions being experienced, although at no time did he request assistance since the vessel was not in distress. Instead, the captain slowed the vessel from 9 to 6.5 knots per hour, and advised that passengers secure themselves in the life jackets provided.
Contact was maintained with the vessel by officials in Georgetown until around 1pm on Tuesday evening, when telephone and radio communication were lost.
This prompted the alerting of the coastguard and an aircraft flying over the sea, which were asked to be on the lookout for the vessel in order to determine its exact location during the communication black-out.
The T&HD reported that communication with the vessel was re-established around 11:40am yesterday and the captain informed officials in Georgetown that it was at the time approaching Mora Passage at the mouth of the Waini River. The captain also indicated that the vessel’s estimated time of arrival at Morawhanna was 2pm, at a speed of nine point seven (9.7) knots per hour, one hour shy of its scheduled arrival time. The vessel reportedly sustained no serious damage, and all of its crew and passengers arrived safely.