269 - 11/02 - Vessel Groundings - Port Moresby - Papua New Guinea

We have been made aware of a vessel running aground on a reef close to Basilisk Beacon whilst approaching Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea in August 2002.

Pilotage is compulsory in Port Moresby and is available at the boarding Ground 245o x 1,500m from Basilisk Beacon or in bad weather 040o x 950m from Basilisk Beacon and should be ordered preferably 24hrs prior to arrival. We have been advised that it is recommended for masters who are not familiar with the port to adjust speed and to arrive at the boarding ground in daylight, as pilots apparently will not board vessels after dark. It is also recommended for masters to use the pilot station outside of Basilisk Passage given the reported unreliability of the beacons and other navigational aids in PNG waters.

 In the above case the vessel proceeded through Basilisk Passage, without a pilot, and over compensated for the current flowing northwest due to the prevailing monsoon. This action resulted in the vessel running aground northwest of Basilisk Beacon.

We understand that the master was not the first master to make this error. Many ships have run aground in the approaches to Basilisk Passage in recent years due to the similar problem of vessels over -compensating for the Northwest current.

 We have also been advised of a further problem in that the reef to the north of Basilisk Beacon protrudes further into the passage than appears on the chart. 

We recommend that masters trading to this area be made aware of the above problems.

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