A charge bought against the Master of the SANTA REGINA of endangering passengers and crew during a return trip to Picton was dropped by the judge in the Wellington Court this afternoon and the jury dismissed.
After listening to this trial drag out during the past six days I am wondering if there is a vendetta by Maritime New Zealand against our profession. It is well known that they do not like the term Captain and prohibit any employee who may have the experience and qualifications to call himself Captain to prefix his name with the title.
Some of the hearing concerned what happened before the minor berthing collision. We had to watch a real time video taken from the AIS of the berthing manoeuvre. Surely this had nothing to do with the charge and this type of forum is not the ideal place to discuss such technical matters. Doctors who make a mistake with an operation are usually judged by their peers as happens with many other professions.
The original charge included not reporting the accident as soon as practical but this was dropped before the trial began.
These minor collisions (allusions) are a frequent occurrences at ports throughout the world. They are similar to a hard landing by a jet. How hard does it have to be before it is reported? A cabin attendant sitting next to me during a hard landing replied when I commented about one “He always does it like that”.
Until about 10 years ago this type of accident would be reported to and handled by the Harbourmaster who was in all ports the senior pilot who had spent many years berthing and un-berthing ships. Sadly this is now not the case.
The crown likened it to the RENA grounding by stating that big things start from small things. They were reminded by the defence that a 1.85 metre gash 50 mm wide was not quite the same as running a container ship onto a reef at 18 knots.
That the Master had not seen the small tear in the shell plating when he and the chief engineer inspected the area after berthing involved a number of witnesses. A badly made video showing how different brands of torches and car head lights could light up the ships side was shown to the jury in a one hour show made by a road crash and fire investigator. I thought he was a torch salesman.
A weather forecaster even offered opinion on how ferries entered Marlborough Sounds in stormy conditions although on the day in question the highest recorded wind speed was only 42 knots.
It disturbs me that our profession is administered in New Zealand by such an inept Government Department and whose treatment of a senior officer will not win them any friends. It is little wonder that many fine New Zealand seafarers are now working overseas.
The cost of this investigation and subsequent trial must run into many thousands of dollars which will be borne by the taxpayer.
Captain Henderson had to wait nearly three years to have his day in court which is unacceptable.
Members who recently crossed the bar:
Captain Christopher S. Morris – Tauranga Branch on 21st September 2013;
Captain Ronald A. Colebrook – Wellington Branch on 22nd September 2013;
Captain Robert Wyld – Tauranga Branch on 30th January 2014
Captain Hugh Coates – Christchurch Branch on 26th February 2014
Captain William A. Siddal – Christchurch Branch on 27th March 2014
The trial started today of the captain of a Cook Strait ferry which carried passengers to Picton and back to Wellington with a 3.5 metre gash in the side after a collision with another ship during a stormy berthing.
John Henderson, 67, a master of ship who lives in Invercargill, has pleaded not guilty to being the holder of a maritime document, a certificate of competency, and, being in charge of the Santa Regina, doing an act that caused unnecessary danger to the crew or passengers between April 26 and April 27, 2011.
Crown prosecutor Ian Murray told a Wellington District Court jury the Santa Regina was sailed from Picton to Wellington on April 26, 2011 in high winds and rain.
Henderson was the master of the ship, employed by Strait Shipping.
During an attempt to berth at Glasgow wharf the Santa Regina was blown sideways and collided with another ship, the Southern Prospector, and the wharf.
Mr Murray said two holes were torn in the hull, a minor one of about 12cm which was repaired and a 3.5m gash which breached the hull and was not noticed during a torchlight inspection.
The Santa Regina was then sailed back to Picton and returned to Wellington with the gash in place which was not seen until a member of the Wellington Harbourmasters team spotted it.
Mr Murray said during the sailings there was storm warning in place for Cook Strait.
He told the jury the problem was the inadequate inspection of the ship after the collision which led to two more sailings putting the crew and passengers at unnecessary risk.
Henderson’s lawyer Michael Reed, QC, told the jury the size of the gash was disputed and the defence said it was 1.85m and was cosmetic rather than structural.
He said no water entered the hole during either crossing and at no time was there any risk of the ship sinking or risk to the passengers or crew.
Mr Reed said Henderson was a very experienced captain who would never have sailed if he thought there had been any risk.
The trial is expected to take the rest of the week.© Fairfax NZ News
Ferry captain denies risky sailing
Lloyds List Monday 17 February 2014 by Janet Porter
AT least 200 to 300 containers were lost from the 7,200 teu Svendborg Maersk late last week when the ship was caught up in atrocious weather conditions as it crossed the Bay of Biscay.
The full tally could be higher, with the exact number of boxes swept overboard not yet known. The ship arrived in Malaga on Monday evening where officials from Maersk Line and the P&I club, plus stowage and lashing experts, are waiting to assess the losses and investigate exactly what happened.
Many more containers are damaged after the stacks in at least six bays tilted over during the hurricane force winds that lashed much of Europe on Friday. Svendborg Maersk was reported to have been rolling at up to 40 degrees.
The 1998-built ship was heading from Rotterdam to Sri Lanka at the time of the accident, and some of the lost containers were probably empty on the backhaul leg.
None of the crew was injured but will be given counselling.
This is thought to be the biggest loss of containers in a single incident that Maersk Line has ever suffered.
The Wellington Branch hold monthly meetings at Bay Plaza Hotel, Oriental Parade, 1200 for 1230 on the following WEDNESDAYS during 2014.
In the past year a number of meetings were attended by wives and guests of members where the speakers subject was of interest. We would extend the same invitation this coming year.
12 Mar David Binnie, General Manager, Crown Minerals, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
He will talk on the financial and other advantages to New Zealand of Oil Exploration.
09 April AGM Wellington Branch
14 May TBA
11 June TBA
09 July TBA
13 Aug AGM
10 Sep TBA
08 Oct TBA
19 Nov Dinner 1800
Please contact Secretary Graham Williams firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm your attendance the previous day.
As part of a plan to raise the membership of the Company, which has been on a slow decline, it was agreed by the Executive Council to have a promotional brochure printed, distributed to branches and on to individual members. As shown below is a copy of this flyer which is seen to be an aid in encouraging the recruitment of new members. Exactly how the best benefit is to be gained by the circulation of these leaflets remains with the Branch Committees but it is hoped that, where relevant, they do assist members in stimulating suitable entrants to apply for membership. A reserve of these handouts are held by Branch Secretaries, please make good use of them.
From Lloyds List Friday 10 January 2014 by Michael Grey
“The Board was also at pains to ensure that a constant supply of good officers would be available to sail the new ships.”
The object, said the chairman in his report, “was to get good steady lads, who will work their way up in our service and become in time efficient officers and commanders of our ships”.
Each ship would carry between three and five apprentices under indenture to the company and just four years after the company had commissioned its first vessel, 45 apprentices had been appointed, while “there were many applications on our books”.
THIS was in the annual report of the New Zealand Shipping Company in 1878, details of which are to be found in Alan Bott’s fine book about the sailing fleet of NZS, which served on the world’s longest trade route between 1873 and 1900, when the company went over to steam.
I had been thinking about the industry’s attitude to its trainees when doing some research for Lloyd’s List’s digital commemoration, and it is clear that this company had some really quite advanced ideas about its responsibility for growing its own talent.
There was no whingeing to the government for grants to train, and indeed the NZS even commissioned its own hostel for apprentices in the East India Dock Road, with its matron and housekeeper to keep the lads standing by ships in line. The company, without doubt, knew where its responsibilities lay.
But for hundreds of years before this, virtually every merchant ship would routinely carry apprentices, learning their trade “on the job”, often for as long as seven hard years.
They would often be indentured to the master of the ship, sometimes to the owner. It would be no exaggeration to suggest that they were cheap labour, with their lodgings and victuals their only recompense.
Their welfare was very much at the mercy of the master, who if he was far sighted and decent, would ensure they were properly taught and learned the principles of navigation alongside the seamanship they practised daily.
As I write this I have my own indentures, dated 1956, on my desk, its archaic language barely altered from that of those signed a century or more earlier.
The only concession to modernity was that “the master hereby covenants with the said apprentice that during the said term he will and shall use all proper means to teach the said apprentice or cause him to be taught the business of a seaman and of a ship’s officer as practised in vessels other than sailing ships”.
I did get paid a small amount every month, although my father had to pay a £35 ($57) “surety” to ensure I didn’t jump ship, on which case it would be forfeit.
We were cheap labour, too, although it was a very notable fact that the Port Line rarely seemed to “import” officers, with almost all having started in the same fashion.
One generation trained the next, in a continuum that had worked further back than anyone could remember.
Twenty years on and the industry carried on training in this way.
A couple of months ago, I read Under a Yellow Sky* by Simon Hall, now chief executive of a financial group but who has just written an account of his cadetship in Shell Tankers, although he diplomatically abstains from mentioning its name in this entertaining book.
He went away in the early 1970s, although by then, sea time was interspersed with periods of shore-side study.
It is clear that he and his fellow cadets worked like slaves on board these ships, the junior cadets at the bottom of the food chain and mightily oppressed by their seniors.
Nevertheless, there seems to have been time to go ashore occasionally and desperate quantities of drink taken, which seems to have dulled the pain.
The point I am painfully making towards is the fact that down through the ages, shipping companies have regarded it as important to train their own officers, like the Creator himself producing man “in his own image”.
These were people who would be brought up in the company way of doing things, sometimes badly taught by officers who did not care or were too busy, but more often in the hands of officers who undertook these responsibilities seriously.
“You’ll make a good third mate: I’ll be happy to sail with you any time,” said Simon Hall’s final chief officer, as he completed his cadetship.
It was clearly an important and worthwhile accolade.
But somewhere between then and now, training has been moved decisively from the category of “investment” to that of “costs” in the minds of the bean counters.
The responsibility for training the next generation has been largely sloughed off to colleges, to governments or to anyone who might pick up some of the bill.
Now we have cadets tolerated as a sort of codicil to the tonnage tax regime, treated all too often as passengers, on board ships where not a soul speaks their language, in a company where they have no prospect of future employment as an officer.
Does anyone in the industry regard this as progress?
There are a few companies that take their training responsibilities seriously, but they will tend to be the major shipmanagers, whose personnel folk tear their hair out looking for berths on board their clients’ ships, where sea time can be earned.
It’s a very long way from the positive action reported to the board of NZS, with their enthusiastic endorsement of their scheme for apprentice training, nearly 140 years ago.
*Under a Yellow Sky, by Simon Hall, is published by Whittles, available from www.whittlespublishing.com at £16.99.