On 19 September, at the Wellington District Court, the Captain and the Chief Officer pleaded guilty to providing false information to Maritime NZ, and they were fined $13,500 and $4,050 respectively. The Captain also pleaded guilty to permitting dangerous activity. A reparation payment of $10,000 for emotional harm has been awarded to the victim.
The incident took place at the Port of Tauranga on 6 September 2019, when the crewman was working in a hold containing palm kernel, which is known to deplete oxygen in the air.
Fire and Emergency NZ rescued the unconscious man from the ship’s cargo-hold. He was then taken to the Tauranga Hospital and placed in an induced coma. He was discharged from hospital on 10 September 2019.
Maritime NZ investigated the incident, and the Captain and Chief Officer gave false information, claiming that assessment and gas tests of the cargo-hold had been done, and the hold was safe to work in. None of that was true.
Oxygen depletion and gas build up in ships’ holds is a worldwide known risk and a major concern for Maritime NZ. International law requires operators to have a Safety Management System (SMS) for a ship which establishes safety procedures to make sure that entry into enclosed spaces like cargo holds is properly evaluated for risk and that those risks are effectively managed.
Maritime NZ takes all steps to ensure the safety of maritime operations in New Zealand, including aboard foreign ships in our waters, in accordance with international law. As well as taking the prosecution, we have shared information about the incident and this ship with other Asia-Pacific countries’ maritime authorities, and reported it to the Isle of Man registry. This is part of an international system for monitoring ships that are involved in incidents - we help each other keep shipping safe
stated Maritime NZ’s Central Region Compliance Manager, Michael-Paul Abbott said.