Ghost shipment under probe
The National [ March 23, 2007 ]
By PETER KORUGL
PARTS of the American World War 11 plane “Swamp Ghost” was moved out of Papua New Guinea illegally, the PNG Customs alleged yesterday.
Senior Customs officials claimed a container with parts of the old B-7E Flying Fortress was moved out of Lae to Brisbane, Australia without the knowledge of PNG authorities.
They claim the container was moved out of Lae on Feb 27 without their knowledge, and have launched an internal investigation.
However, Steamships Shipping Agency, the company that allegedly shipped the parts to Australia, yesterday denied that the cargo in the container had parts of the Swamp Ghost.
Mr Ray Critchley, manager of Steamships Shipping Agency in Lae said the container had parts of another old war plane “that had been sitting in Lae for a long time”.
Mr Critchley said all documentations for the shipment of the parts in that particular container were completed and in order.
“The Swamp Ghost was still in Lae. It had not been moved. What was moved were parts of another plane,” Mr Critchley said.
But Customs officials in Lae are suspicious, and are investigating to establish what was in the container, and whether proper procedures were followed.
The officials also want to establish if some of their own people were doing things without the knowledge of their bosses.
PNG Customs insiders said the export entry papers for the Swamp Ghost was received by their office only three days ago but the container that they suspected had the parts of the plane was moved about three weeks ago.
The Swamp Ghost was moved from its resting place in Popondetta, Oro province in April last year and brought to Lae.
PNG Customs did not give clearance to United States-based Aero Archeology, based in Pennsylvania or its agents to export the old bomber out of the country, when news of the evacuation broke.
The Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee also intervened to prevent the relic leaving PNG shores.