Saving the Harbor Master
Gov. Lolo Matasi Moliga (right) shakes hands with Port Administration Water Transportation Division employee Sunia Davetawalu (left), who was one of the three Port employees presented with special recognition awards and monetary gifts last week recognizing them for their efforts in saving the life of Harbor Master, Silila Patane following an incident on May 13. The two other Port employees recognized were Timoci Loloma and Joseph Fa’agata. The recognition ceremony by the Port Administration was held at the Governor’s Office conference room.
Patane was also recognized and honored for his more than 50 years of service in government. Davetawalu and Loloma are from Fiji and are Port Administration contractor workers.
During the ceremony, Taimalelagi explained that on May 13th, the Sailele tugboat with Patane along with Davetawalu, Loloma, and Fa’agata were on board heading out to the entrance of the harbor to escort into port a cargo vessel.
As the usual practice, the cargo vessel would lower a ladder onto the tugboat for the Pilot of the tugboat to climb aboard. However, the rope ladder broke, when Patane was half way up the ladder and he fell down while Davetawalu, Loloma, and Fa’agata were watching and they quickly caught Patane, who was taken to the hospital for a check up and returned to work not long thereafter.
“The Port has been very blessed to not have lost a life in the service that our Water Transportation crew performs for incoming/outgoing vessels,” Taimalelagi said last Thursday and reiterated the same statement during yesterday’s ceremony. “The job that our Pilots perform to guide a ship into the harbor is always a ‘hazardous and life-threatening’ service.”
Based on Port Administration information, the May 13th incident is the first time that something like this has happened since 1963 when a port pilot lost his life when he dropped between a tugboat and a cargo ship.
Lolo thanked Taimalelagi for the initiative in honoring the service of Port employees, who were also commended for their service to the government and people of American Samoa.
In his brief remarks, Patane says that while they are used to the work involved but there are times when incidents surface, that becomes a threat to their lives.