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Four convicted of grounding RFNS Kiro

June 28, 2018 4:50 am

The four naval officers involved in the 2016 grounding of the RFNS Kiro have all been found guilty by the six-member General court-martial underway at the RFMF Suva barracks.

Lieutenant Commander Saula Tuilevuka, Lieutenant Samuela Cikaitoga, Lieutenant Ben Salacakau and Ensign Mike Brown were guiding the naval ship when it grounded on Belcher rock on July 14th two years ago.

The RFNS Kiro left Stanley Brown wharf for Natovi jetty at 4:30 that morning and ran onto the rock at 5:45.

The court heard Maritime Commander Lt Commander Tuilevuka failed to submit a report to the Navy Headquarters on the RFNS Kiro’s operational sea check.

That report would have notified the HQ of the status of the Kiro and its crew.

The last check was conducted in 2015.

The court heard the Commanding Officer aboard. Lt. Cikaitoga, failed to train navigation officer Ensign Mike Brown on the operation of the Kiro’s navigation radar and GPS.

Brown testified he received no training on board the Kiro.

Lt Cikaitoga said Brown was a substitute that day called in to replace the crew navigation officer.

The court was told if Lt. Cikaitoga had paid close attention to Brown’s course he would have spotted anomalies.

Lt. Cikaitoga also failed to fill in the Commanding Officers night order book – which would have directed the officers on the watch to consult the CO at every course change – resulting on the Kiro sailing without orders.

On the three occasions when Brown altered course, the CO was never consulted because the senior officer of the watch Lt. Salacakau had withheld the night order book.

The Court Martial meets again next week Friday for mitigation.