Belief leads company back to boatbuilding

Fiji Ships and Heavy Industries Ltd (FSHIL) is a ship repair company that strongly believes in passengers’ safety.

The company has manufactured some of the best products for Fiji’s travelling public without compromising their safety in light of numerous reports of loss of life at sea.

The company, which re-introduced shipbuilding last year, is focused on their fibreglass boat designs that follows standard requirements for boatbuilding and are regulated under the Maritime Aids to Navigation Regulation 2014.

“Our products cannot be completely submerged if there is any incident out at sea because the required standard is followed,” operations manager Lopeti Radravu said.

Swamp tests are usually carried out before the boats are sold. The boats are filled with water to test their buoyancy.

“The hull must have 12 layers thickness (of chop-strand match/roving mat). Most of the boats built nowadays have the longitudinal girder stops at the frames which shouldn’t be the case,” Mr Radravu said.

“The boatbuilding law demands that the buoyancy should be adequate, meaning that in any circumstances at sea, the boat should still remain or seen 50mm- 100m above the waterline.

“The materials used to build these boats are slippery so for any incident at sea, there is little hope for passengers to cling on to the boat which is why FSHIL ensures that we have a grabber line on both sides of the boat.”

The inside of the boats are painted orange that in any circumstances at sea, air search would be able to identify them from an altitude of 6000ft.

Mr Radravu said their boats were fully equipped with lifesaving and firefighting apparatus as required by the Maritime Safety Authority of Fiji (MSAF).

He said FSHIL ensured all boat buyers were registered with MSAF.

Mr Radravu’s knowledge of fibreglass boatbuilding dates back to the ’80s when he used to work with the Japanese at Burns Philp (Now Asco Motors) who introduced the boat model in Fiji.

“I’ve seen how the standard has been compromised over the years and in recent years, there have been reports of people missing at sea so we decided to have FSHIL go back into boat building but this to focus on fibreglass boats,” Mr Radravu said.

FSHIL manufactures two models. The 23D model is 7.09 metres long, 1.77m wide with a draft of 0.182m. The 23 SR model has a length of 7.09m, width of 1.71m and draft floating at 0.185m.