Rodrick Bay and Mbike Island

The wreck of the World Discoverer

On Sunday April 30, 2000, at 4 p.m., the cruise ship "World Discoverer" struck a large reef in the Sandfly Passage, Solomon Islands. The day was cloudy, it was raining and viability was bad, and the reef was mismarked on the charts by some 180 metres. Immediately it hit the rocks, Captain Oliver Kruess sent a distress call, which was received in Honiara, the Solomon Islands' capital city. A passenger ferry was dispatched to the ship to rescue the passengers. The first priority was to get the passengers to safety, and the lifeboats took them to the nearby island, where they clustered on the beach. Next priority was the ship, which was taking in water

The Captain decided to beach the ship, in the hope that salvage men could rescue it from beached position, rather than try to raise it from the ocean deeps. He brought the ship into Rodrick Bay after the ship began to list 20 degrees and grounded it there at the spot that it still sits today. The passenger ferry eventually arrived and took the passengers to Honiara, with access to an airport and home. The President of Society Expeditions, the ship's owners, congratulated the captain and their crew for their heroic and professional actions, saying that they performed in an "exemplary manner" during the crisis. The inquiry absolved him of any blame, and Capt Kruess is still captaining expedition ships today.

The starboard side of the ship was underwater, so some of the possessions of passengers in the port side cabins were rescued. Next problem was that the locals stole everything moveable off the ship and the houses in the village can be seen with smart porthole windows and cruise ship furniture today

Eventually the salvage company arrived, did an underwater survey and declared it a "constructive loss". However the Solomon Islands were undergoing civil war at that time; the ship was boarded by locals and much of the essential operating equipment on the ship just disappeared. Tidal activity had damaged the ship even more. I understand that the salvage company workers were threatened so as not to remove the ship, and they appear to have decided that it would not be safe to continue the salvage operation

By 2014 one can see that salvage would be impossible. The ship has been sustaining surface rusting with many of the windows removed. It is now a tourist attraction for passing cruise ship. The World Discoverer can be seen on Google Earth.

Although there were no reports of any oil other pollutants escaping from the wreck, it is inevitable that toxic liquids will escape as the ship starts to break up.

Our understanding and interest in the wreck was enhanced by the fact that the Expedition Leader on the World Discoverer the day she was wrecked as none other than our own Expedition Leader Conrad Combrink . The photo below shows Conrad standing in a zodiac re-telling his adventures that day on the World Discoverer. The experience does not seem to have dimmed his passion for expedition cruising, and we really enjoyed his enthusiastic style of leadership, which enhanced our enjoyment of the cruise considerably.

Click on any of the small photos to get a larger version of that photo

There was then an afternoon stop at nearby Mbike Island, most memorable for a great barbeque on the island. Mbike has been set up for small cruise ships to stop and have barbeques, there are tables, chairs and of course toilets. The crew laid on a wonderful experience, complete with a full on-shore bar., and the obligatory local music. A very enjoyable afternoon. We heeded of as the sun was setting; and passed,at a safe distance, the reef on which the World Discoverer had perished


On to Port St Mary, Santa Anna

South Seas Holiday