The Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) has announced it will convene an independent Board of Inquiry (BOI) on the grounding of the Fiji Navy vessel, RFNS Puamau.

RFNS Puamau hit a reef and ran aground in a passage close to the far-flung island of Fulaga in the Lau group.

The incident occurred last Tuesday, only a month after the multi-million-dollar state-of-the-art ship was commissioned.

RFMF Commander, Major General Ro Jone Kalouniwai, says the decision for an independent BOI stems from the monetary value of the vessel, valued at around $20 million (US$11 million).

Kalouniwai said it is imperative to demonstrate the RFMF’s commitment to transparency and accountability by thoroughly examining the mishap.

While the RFMF acknowledges the investigation by the Fiji Navy, it believes an independent BOI will enhance the thoroughness of the inquiry, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the incident.

Kalouniwai said the objective is to prevent similar incidents in the future, upholding the highest standards of operations within the Fiji Navy.

The RFMF also acknowledged the support of all stakeholders in the independent investigation.

As efforts to salvage RFNS Puamau are underway while the stranded vessel continues to take in water.

RFNS Puamau is a guardian-class patrol boat donated to Fiji by Australia as part of the Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Project.