United Kingdom cruise ship crashes into coral reefs in Indonesia

Indonesia summoned the British ambassador Friday after a cruise ship on a voyage organised by a London-based company smashed into coral reefs in a popular tourist spot and caused extensive damage.

A preliminary investigation estimated that the cruise ship damaged almost 1,600 square meters of coral reef at a diving site known as Crossover Reef, as the ship ran aground in shallow waters during low tide on March 4.

Luhut Pandjaitan, Indonesia's coordinating minister for maritime affairs, summoned British ambassador Moazzam Malik to Jakarta on Friday.

Local people, who rely on dive and environmental tourism, were devastated by the damage to the pristine reef.

CNN reported that insurance may pay for some of the environment damage, the Indonesian authorities said that the captain committed a crime and could be sent to prison.

He expressed hope that the matter could be resolved quickly, but noted that the ship "is owned, managed, crewed and operated by a Swedish company based in Gottenberg".

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya said on Monday that the government is considering taking the recent incident involving a United Kingdom cruise vessel, the MV Caledonian Sky, to an worldwide tribunal as the company announced it would settle the case with its insurance.

"We are working with local experts to understand how we can assist with the regeneration of the reef".

Panjaitan said authorities were still determining the extent of the damage. A preliminary investigation found that the ship destroyed about 1,600 square meters (17,200 square feet) of coral in the heart of Radja Ampat, an archipelago with more than 1,500 small islands, cays, and shoals known as a center of marine biodiversity.

The Indonesian government has said that the British captain piloting the ship could face criminal charges, while marine researchers have estimated that it could take decades and millions of dollars to restore the coral.

Pandjaitan said authorities are investigating why the ship left even though police had asked it to stay.

  • Carolyn Briggs