Second foreign yacht intercepted

Another yacht was intercepted in Manus Province waters on Wednesday, April 1st, by the COVID-19 police sea surveillance team.

Named Blue Jay, the yacht was escorted to Rara Island near Lorengau town.

Manus provincial police commander (PPC), Chief Inspector David Yapu, said the couple on board had departed Cebu, the Philippines, on March 7th and were heading to Fiji when they encountered a problem with their water pump alternator.

The 73-year-old Australian and his 42-year-old wife, who is from Thailand, called into the nearest port at Manus when the Provincial Command Centre was alerted of their presence.

Chief Inspector Yapu directed his sea surveillance team and escorted the yacht to Rara Island.

He said he consulted the COVID-19 health team with PNG Customs, NAQIA and PNG Ports and provided details of the yacht to them.

“The health team refused to board the vessel to make clearance and said they did not have necessary protective equipment to board,” Yapu said.

“The Health team said the only authorised ports to clear overseas vessels are at Port Moresby, Lae, Madang and Rabaul.”

The following day (April 2nd), the PPC managed to communicate with the manager of PNG Ports and established communications link with the couple on channel 16 using PNG Ports radio.

“Deputy Controller of state of emergency, Dr Paison Dakulala, was contacted and advised that the vessel be self-quarantined for 21 days due to the SOE lockdown.

“Due to no clearance by medical teams, the yacht is still anchored out at Rara Island and we have instructed our members on COVID-19 to patrol the area on police boat until we get further instructions from Health.

“Awareness has been conducted in the villages on the coastline and nearby islands not to come closer to the vessel.

“Local people are now living in fear and are panicking about the presence of the vessel in their sea, saying the vessel had travelled from a high-risk country of COVID-19 into their area.”

The PPC further said PNG Customs, PNG Ports, NAQIA and Police have been instructed not to board the vessel until the Health team makes clearance.

Additionally, the couple was advised of the SOE lockdown, including the restrictions imposed. They were strictly advised against going ashore to fix their water pump alternator until cleared by Health Team.

“The Police COVID-19 team with our partner agencies are working together on how best we could deal with this issue,” stated PPC Yapu.

The first time a foreign yacht was intercepted in Manus was on March 28th, where the PPC and his team refused an Australian couple entry, instead directing them to continue their journey to their destination in Rabaul.

Press release