The first and second captain of MV Karapa, a locally owned vessel, have been suspended by the Office of the Maritime Regulator (OMR) for allegedly raping a passenger while on duty.

Inspector Afremen Kender from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Unit at the Santo Police Station confirmed the alleged victim has filed a complaint against the two captains, accusing them of rape.

“The recent incident occurred at Litzlitz Wharf in Malekula while they were under the influence of alcohol. They were traveling from Malekula to Santo,” he said.

“The accused officers have been remanded and will appear in court.”

The OMR is very disappointed in the way the accused seafarers have acted, said OMR’s Senior Legal Officer, Lloyd Fikiasi.

“A seafarer’s responsibility is to care for passengers. Involving in such behavior discourages trust between the shipping industry and customers who reply on ship for transportation, especially women and children.

“This is the first serious incident OMR has come across since its existence. We have only been dealing with alcohol-related incidents,” he said.

Mr Fikiasi said OMR will be conducting a separate investigation into the rape allegations, to determine whether their licence should be revoked.

Currently, the accused officers are suspended pending police and OMR investigation.