Exposition permanenteMarine CarpenterMusée MaritimeIle de Lumière

Temporary exhibition

On 14 November 1978, out of the blue, the world discovered the first shocking images of the MV Hai Hong in print media and on television channels. On this old, shabby cargo ship tossed on the sea off Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), 2,449 Vietnamese refugees, including 1,260 children, were crammed in appalling conditions. All had fled South Vietnam, which had fallen under the yoke of a particularly repressive regime.

Shocked by the living conditions aboard the Hai Hong - lack of water, food and hygiene, a high prevalence of disease, promiscuity - Western nations sounded the alarms. In France, public opinion was moved by the distress of these first "Boat People": this was the beginning of an unprecedented momentum of solidarity that would give birth to a "Boat for Vietnam" committee.

In New Caledonia, Michel Cordier answered the call. He was the director of Compagnie des Chargeurs Calédoniens (which could be translated as New Caledonian Loaders Company), a freight company, which operated a Nouméa-based regular service between Sydney, Auckland, Port Vila, Norfolk and Nouméa. The ship owner did not need to think twice before making his only cargo ship and crew available to the Committee. The vessel name was Île de Lumière (Island of Light): obviously a good omen at a time when the Committee and the Boat People were in need of hope.


+687 26 34 43
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Postal address

Musée Maritime de Nouvelle Calédonie
BP 1755 - 98845 Noumea Cedex
New Caledonia

Entrance fees:

Adults : 500 F
Children 6-18, Seniors (over 60), Unemployed and Students (with ID) : 250 F
Children under 6, Handicapped, Museum members, ICOM card holders : free
Major credit cards accepted from 2000 F
Currencies accepted: A$, NZ$

Opening hours
Tuesday to Sunday
10 am to 5 pm
Closed Mondays

See Plan