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At about 0615 on 2 February 2012, the 42.7 m passenger ferry Rabaul Queen capsized and sank about 9 nautical miles off the Papua New Guinea (PNG) town of Finschhafen. Two hundred and forty six people were rescued during a search and rescue operation that was coordinated by the PNG Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre and the Australian Rescue Coordination Centre. However, at least 142 people are thought to have died as a result of the sinking.

On 16 February, following a request from the PNG Government, four officials from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) travelled to the PNG capital Port Moresby to offer initial advice to local authorities in safety aspects of the investigation into the sinking.

From that time until 28 June 2012, two ATSB transport safety investigators provided assistance to the PNG Government's Commission of Inquiry into the sinking of Rabaul Queen in accordance with Section 12AA (2)(a)(iii) of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003. This part of the ATSB’s governing legislation provides for cooperation with authorities in other countries in the interest of transport safety.

The Commission of Inquiry’s final report was presented to the Prime Minister of PNG on 28 June 2012 and it was subsequently tabled in parliament on 5 September 2012. Information, including the Commission of Inquiry's terms of reference, hearing transcripts and final report can be found at: http://www.coi.gov.pg/rabaulqueen.html

General details
Date: 02 February 2012 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 0615  
Location   (show map):Northeast of Finschhafen, PNG Investigation type: External Investigation 
State: International Occurrence type: Capsize 
Release date: 28 June 2012  
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Fatal 
Vessel details
Vessel: Rabaul Queen 
Flag: Papua New Guinea 
Type of Operation: Passage 
Damage to Vessel: Destroyed 
Departure point:Kembe, New Britain
Departure time:1 February 2012
Destination:Lae, Papua New Guinea
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Last update 16 April 2018