The Indonesian government said it will take immediate action after British cruise ship Caledonian Sky, operated by British-based company Noble Caledonia, seriously damaged part of the coral reefs in Raja Ampat (Papua) in a shipwreck accident that happened on 4 March 2017. Immediate action could include the extradition of the ship's captain back to Indonesia. After the accident the Caledonian Sky sailed further to the Philippines.
The Caledonian Sky, a 4,200 ton-heavy cruise ship carrying 102 passengers and 79 crew-members, hit pristine coral reefs in the waters of Raja Ampat on Saturday 4 March 2017. The accident presumably occurred because the captain of the cruise ship was unaware of the low tide. A tugboat was then deployed to pull the ship back to deeper waters. However, this only caused more damage to the coral reefs. After several attempts the Caledonian Sky was finally free (helped by higher tide) to resume its journey to the Indonesian island of Sulawesi (before departing to the Philippines).
The damage to Raja Ampat's coral reefs is big, covering an area of 1,600 square meters. Raja Ampat is known as one of the world's most unique places due to the beauty of its coral reefs and its rich biodiversity. Although its location is rather isolated and there is few infrastructure available, every year a considerable amount of tourists visit the area to enjoy Raja Ampat's rich natural beauty and diversity. Damaged coral reefs would therefore jeopardize the attractiveness of (visiting) the area.
Arrmanatha Nasir, spokesman of Indonesia's Foreign Ministry, said the destruction of coral reefs is a criminal offense and therefore the captain of the cruise ship can be charged under Indonesia's criminal law. Currently, a team is conducting a study in Raja Ampat to determine the exact impact on nature and evaluate the economic costs.
The accident occurred around Kri, one of the hundreds of small islands in Raja Ampat. Meanwhile, operator Noble Caledonia said it is very upset by the damage to Indonesia's coral reef and is working to reach a settlement with Indonesian authorities.