Assessment of search and rescue incident off Christmas Island

Australian Customs and Border Protection Service Media release
17 April 2013

Customs and Border Protection has led an assessment of the response to the maritime incident on 25 March 2013 where ACV Ocean Protector rendered assistance to an asylum seeker vessel which capsized north of Christmas Island in the course of being boarded.

The primary purpose of the assessment was to determine whether correct operational procedures and processes were followed and to ascertain any potential areas for improvement in those procedures.

“This was a tragic event. Our thoughts are with the families and relatives of the two people who sadly lost their lives at sea as well as those individuals who responded to the incident,” a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson said.

The assessment noted minor refinements to boarding practices and procedures, tools to assist reviewing capability during emergency situations and providing ongoing support to personnel involved in critical incidents. For operational security purposes these details will not be publicly released.

“The assessment will enable Customs and Border Protection to further improve and refine practices and procedures as part of our ongoing routine post critical incident analysis.

“In light of the findings and sequence of events, the minor improvements would not have impacted the outcome of this particular incident; the loss of lives was tragic.

“This incident highlights the significant risks and life threatening nature of these maritime ventures,” a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson said.

The assessment is not designed to replace any police investigations or coronial processes that may be announced into the incident.

Information gathered during the assessment will be made available for any subsequent formal review, investigation or possible coronial process.

Media enquiries:

Customs and Border Protection Media (02) 6275 6793


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