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Court martial for four naval officers continues

June 28, 2018 1:05 am

The general court martial of the four naval officers involved in the grounding of the RFNS Kiro in July, 2016 continues at the RFMF barracks today.

The accused Lieutenant Commander Saula Tuilevuka, Lieutenant Samuela Cikaitoga, Lieutenant Ben Salacakau and Ensign Mike Brown are been responsible for the grounding of RFNS Kiro two years ago.

President of the GMC Commander Netani Sukanaivalu read the nature of their offences and consequences of their guilty plea to the accused.

The four accused have opted not to change their plea. They had all pleaded guilty to the six charges on Tuesday.

The President and the panels of the HMC have retired behind closed doors to deliberate on the plea and if their guilty plea is accepted, no witnesses will be called for the trial and the Prosecution will be told to outline the facts of the case, however the defence can call witnesses to testify to their character and they can also make a statement of mitigation.

The four are charged with neglecting to perform a duty contrary to Section 29A (b) of the Army Act of 1955.

Lieutenant Commander Tuilevuka while holding the appointment of Allied Maritime Command or MARCOM prior to being deployed to Nadi’s Black Rock Camp on July 14th, 2016 neglected to submit a report to the Navy Headquarters on the operational sea check that was conducted on RFNS Kiro.

Lieutenant Cikaitoga who was the Captain on board the RFNS Kiro at the time faces a total of three charges.

He gave approval to the navigator to proceed with the initial plan without paying attention to the requirements of regulation on safety clearance for coastal navigation. He also failed to fill his Captain’s Order Book.

Lieutenant Cikaitoga also failed to train the navigation officer, Ensign Brown to be familiar with the ships navigation equipment.

Lieutenant Salacakau was the Executive Officer onboard the vessel and failed to ensure the RFNS Kiro night order book was handed to Lieutenant Cikaitoga as his duty as the most senior watch keeper prior to briefing the rest of the officers of the watch onboard.

Ensign Brown who was the Navigation Officer neglected to alter the course of the boat to avoid grounding the vessel on Belcher rock near Nukulau Island.