Panama's Aqua Blu cruise ship that got stuck on a rock in Raja Ampat on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of the Transportation Ministry)

Panama Cruise Ship Stuck on a Rock in Raja Ampat


DECEMBER 21, 2019

Jakarta. Aqua Blu, a cruise ship bearing the Panama flag, got stuck on a rock out at sea in Raja Ampat, a popular tourist destination in West Papua, and authorities are now investigating if the ship has also damaged the area's famous coral reefs. 

The ship was stranded on the rock, located within the Raja Ampat conservation area, for around seven hours on Wednesday before it could be released and dragged to the nearby Waisal Port, the Transportation Ministry said on Saturday.

Raja Ampat is a coral reef conservation area but initial investigations suggest Aqua Blu did not hit any protected reef.

"The ship was stranded for seven hours and five minutes inside the conservation. It did not leak fuel or cause any other pollution. [However], a KKP [Coast Guard] team has made a few dives to confirm the initial report [that there was no coral reef damage]," Raja Ampat port's head of operations Anggiat P. Marpaung said.

According to the report, the ship had hit a 1 meter by 3 meters rock pile where it got stuck. 

Seven foreign tourists were on board the Aqua Blu when the incident happened – four Britons and three Australians – plus a 24-strong crew.

"The investigation will be taken over by marine inspectors and Raja Ampat port operators, assisted by the port authority from Sorong," Anggiat said. 

If the ship was found to have damaged the coral reefs at Raja Ampat or violated safety rules, ship operator Project Wallage Indonesia will have to take responsibility, Anggiat said.