media release

Search and rescue incident off Christmas Island - final update - 27 March 2013

ACV Ocean Protector has resumed operational duties following Monday's (25 March) search and rescue operation north of Christmas Island.

Of the 96 people recovered, including tragically two deceased, seven people required medical attention. Four were treated at Christmas Island Hospital and have been discharged into the care of Department of Immigration and Citizenship staff. Three people, including a six year old boy and two women in their 30s, were transferred by the Royal Flying Doctor Service to a Perth hospital where they are all in a stable condition.

As part of standard operating procedures, Customs and Border Protection is reviewing the circumstances surrounding the response to the incident.

Chief Executive Officer, Michael Pezzullo, said the Service routinely evaluated and reviewed procedures in response to any significant maritime incident or other event.

"In light of the tragic loss of two lives during the incident, it is prudent and entirely appropriate that an assessment of the operation is conducted to determine whether correct operational procedures and processes were followed and to ascertain any potential areas for improvement in those procedures," Mr Pezzullo said.

As part of this assessment process, Customs and Border Protection will construct a chronology of the incident and ensure all relevant documents and any recordings or imagery are captured.

The assessment will include consideration of any factors affecting the safety and wellbeing of the people on board the asylum seeker vessel and Customs and Border Protection officers, and whether the appropriate policies and procedures were implemented. It will also identify if changes to policies and procedures are required to improve operational safety.

"Information gathered during this assessment would of course be made available to any subsequent formal inquiry process," Mr Pezzullo said.

Customs and Border Protection has begun its assessment, which is not designed to replace any police investigations or coronial processes that may be announced into the incident.

Customs and Border Protection will fully support any formal inquiries or investigations as required.

Media enquiries:

Customs and Border Protection Media (02) 6275 6793

X-URL: http://www.customs.gov.au/site/130327mediarelease_SARupdate.asp

http://www.customs.gov.au/site/130327mediarelease_SARupdate.asp modified: 27 March, 2013 5:34 PM