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Defence blames Dutch ship for collision

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  • Defence blames Dutch ship for collision

    Wednesday, November 19, 2003 - Channel NewsAsia

    THE lawyer defending the two Republic of Singapore Navy officers from the RSS Courageous against negligence charges yesterday tried to shift the blame for the collision at sea to the crew of the Dutch cargo ship, ANL Indonesia.

    The collision on Jan 3 off Pedra Branca killed four servicewomen who were on board the Singapore navy patrol craft.

    On the second day of the trial, the defence claimed the cargo vessel sailed into the path of the navy ship after misreading its intentions.

    The maritime officer of the ANL Indonesia, Mr Gerrit Easge Botma, was on the stand for about three hours. He answered questions from lawyer Stephen Chong, who is representing the RSN's Lieutenant Chua Chue Teng and Lieutenant Ng Keng Yong.

    Mr Chong said the ANL Indonesia could have averted the collision if it had stayed its course and allowed the navy ship to cross in front of it or turned sharply to the right using manual steering instead of relying on the autopilot.

    The defence lawyer also alleged that "obvious inexperience" on the part of the ANL Indonesia's maritime officer led to the collision.

    Mr Botma disputed this, saying it was the manoeuvres of the navy ship that caused the two vessels to collide. - Channel NewsAsia THE lawyer defending the two Republic of Singapore Navy officers from the RSS Courageous against negligence charges yesterday tried to shift the blame for the collision at sea to the crew of the Dutch cargo ship, ANL Indonesia.

    The collision on Jan 3 off Pedra Branca killed four servicewomen who were on board the Singapore navy patrol craft.

    On the second day of the trial, the defence claimed the cargo vessel sailed into the path of the navy ship after misreading its intentions.

    The maritime officer of the ANL Indonesia, Mr Gerrit Easge Botma, was on the stand for about three hours. He answered questions from lawyer Stephen Chong, who is representing the RSN's Lieutenant Chua Chue Teng and Lieutenant Ng Keng Yong.

    Mr Chong said the ANL Indonesia could have averted the collision if it had stayed its course and allowed the navy ship to cross in front of it or turned sharply to the right using manual steering instead of relying on the autopilot.

    The defence lawyer also alleged that "obvious inexperience" on the part of the ANL Indonesia's maritime officer led to the collision.

    Mr Botma disputed this, saying it was the manoeuvres of the navy ship that caused the two vessels to collide.

    - - - - - -

    For those who do not remember this accident:

    On 3 Jan, RSS Courageous, an anti-submarine patrol vessel, collided with a Dutch-registered merchant vessel, ANL Indonesia, in the eastern Singapore Straits near Pedra Branca, at 11.35pm. 44 crewmembers were onboard RSS Courageous on a routine patrol. The aft part of RSS Courageous was shorn off and damage to the ship was extensive. Search and Rescue (SAR) operations were mounted immediately after the collision, to rescue the injured and search for missing crew members, whilst RSS Courageous was towed back to Changi Naval Base. The ship was lifted to allow draining of water to facilitate further search efforts. In the meantime, SAR operations continued at the scene of the collision with RSN and RSAF assets.

    The shorn off part of the ship housed the sleeping quarters of the four female specialists, who were reported missing immediately after collision. Twenty-two year old CPL Goh Hui Ling's body was recovered on 4 Jan from the wreckage of RSS Courageous. The body of twenty-four year old 1SG Heng Sock Ling was found on the beach of Bintan Lagoon Resort on 5 Jan. Shortly after, twenty-five year old 1SG Seah Ai Leng's body was found at Sebong, north-western Pulau Bintan. The SAR operations were brought to a close on 13 Jan based on the advice of forensic experts.

    The aft part of RSS Courageous that was shorn off in the collision was successfully lifted from the seabed on 14 Jan. The body of 2SG Chua Bee Lin was not found in the wreckage.
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