MV Rabaul Queen Sinks Vitiaz Strait Papua New Guinea – MV Rabaul Queen sank in bad weather 10 miles off Cape Fortification in the Vitiaz Strait, Papua New Guinea as many as 100 missing. Early in the morning of February 2, 2012, the ship capsized due to rough conditions in the Solomon Sea.
The ship was hit by three large waves. About four hours later, at approximately 6:00 am local time (8:00 pm on 1 February UTC), she sank 9 nautical miles (16 km) from Finschhafen. She was near the end of her 20-hour journey from Kimbe to Lae. 12 crew and an estimated 350 passengers were aboard at the time, though it is possible there may have been more than 500 passengers on the ferry.
Many survivors were rescued by six merchant vessels alerted by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), which was alerted by Rabaul Shipping that the ferry had disappeared from a satellite tracking system. Seven fixed wing aircraft, including a P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft from the Royal Australian Air Force, three helicopters and seven boats were involved in locating survivors. On 11 February it was reported that some of the survivors were having stomach pains because they swallowed seawater containing oil leaking from the boat.
On 10 February 2012, Radio New Zealand reported that the number of people rescued is 237, and that the number of people missing (based on new information from relatives of those onboard) was 321. This would indicate that some 558 people were aboard the vessel. It was only permitted to carry 310.
Video:100 People Missing in Ferry Disaster in Papua New Guinea