Prestigious Award to Member

On Wednesday 08 July 2020 at the Bolton Hotel Wellington, twenty three members and nine guests sat down to lunch to celebrate a Charter presentation to member, Captain John Mansell.

Among the guests were Ted Ewbank, Master of the NZ Company of Master
Mariners, Larry Robbins, General Secretary/Treasurer of the Company and
Fellow of the Nautical Institute, Keith Manch, Director of Maritime NZ
and six members of John’s immediate family.

Ted traveled from Auckland to speak on behalf of the Honourable Company
of Master Mariners (London) and make the presentation. Keith spoke
regarding John’s achievements in the 20 years that he was employed at
Maritime NZ.

In his speech Ted gave some historical background to the formation of
both the Honourable Company (founded in 1926) and the New Zealand
Company (founded in 1928), both having a similar lineage and a
continuing fraternal relationship.

The opportunity for the Honourable Company to be able to grant
Chartership to qualified Master Mariners came into being in 2013 for UK
persons and in 2018 for Commonwealth mariners. John was granted his
Chartership in 2019.

Ted spoke at some length on the global recognition given to Charter
status, what it means to have Charter status and what process is
required to reach this important recognized standing.

Following Ted, Keith expanded on the main biographical points of John’s
career with MNZ. which itself followed 20 years at sea serving as Master
on the Cook Strait Rail Ferries.

For 15 years John was General Manager of Maritime operations where he
was responsible for flag, port and coastal state matters, pilotage, ship
registration, harbour safety etc.etc. John moved on to design a new set
of  domestic certificates of competency and advise on STCW-F 95 matters.

Concurrently John was studying for and obtained a Ph.D in Maritime Law
from the University of Wollongong, Australia with his thesis being
published in 2009.

Keith stressed the importance of the respect that given to John by his
contemporary colleagues at Maritime New Zealand.

He extended his appreciation to the  Honourable Company for granting him
the Charter and went on to recount his working history which started
with the surprise he encountered on joining his first ship as cadet with
the Union Company. The interview with the Master was quite a revelation!

Comments on the meeting and member numbers in attendance were
encouraging. Arrangements are under way to have a good speaker next
month. Mark your diary for the 12th August !

Ken Watt

Wellington Branch Secretary

Captain John Mansell and Captain Ted Ewbank

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Wellington End of Year Luncheon

Twenty four members and their guests enjoyed a pleasurable social gathering and agreeable meal at the Bolton Hotel today.

This event marked the end of meetings for this year. As we have come to expect, the hospitality and service offered to us is of the highest standard and much appreciated by all in attendance. Our thanks has been given to Janet Knox, Bolton Hotel Events Coordinator, who is always responsive to our needs.

Warden Eric, spoke briefly, welcoming all to the function and after the meal took the opportunity to present a membership certificate to Captain Mark Rothwell who has recently joined us.

Captain McEwan advised that he was shortly off to the UK to attend a Higher Command Course. This was the first meeting to be attended by Captain Shane Ardern. Michael Millar who recently underwent minor surgery was unable to attend and will be missed by the Branch when, before Christmas, he moves to live in Auckland. He intends to transfer his membership to the Master Mariners Auckland Branch.

Nic Campbell had previously advised that for health reasons he regretted not to being able to be in attendance.

The programme for next year is being formulated and a list of speakers being put together. It is timely to remind members that, as was instituted and encouraged, by Graham Williams when he was Branch Secretary, wives, partners and friends are welcome to attend any meeting that the speaker’s topic is of interest to them.

The first meeting of 2021 will take place in March with details to be given closer to that date.

Have a “Happy Christmas” and hope to continue with a Covid free New Year.

Ken Watt


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October Meeting

On 14 October , 18 members, guest speaker Dr Ed. Ballard and 3 other guests attended our October meeting.

Dr Ballard is well known to us have spoken at a meeting last year. The other three guests were Captain Shane Arndell RNZN, Captain Mark Rothwell and Captain Gerry Wright who has decided to resign from the Auckland Branch and join us here in Wellington.

Captains Arndell and Rothwell are in the process of signing up to becoming new members of the Wellington Branch.

On the other side of the balance sheet, it was with disappointment that we learnt that Captain Michael Millar was attending his last meeting as he is moving to live in Auckland in a few months time. Michael has been a committee member and a keen supporter of branch meetings and we wish him well and good health in his retirement years. A few of us will remember his uncle Captain Dave Millar (of the Union Co.) who was a staunch member and supporter of the Wellington Branch some 50 years ago!

As we have now come to expect Dr Ballard captivated our attention with his instructive talk on Ice Belts for the Protection of Vessels operating in the Southern Ocean and Ross Sea.

For illustrative purposes the NZ Offshore Patrol Vessels and the replenishment vessel Aotearoa were used to describe the required hull strengthening to ensure safety and to combat damage in a variety of wind, sea and swell conditions with ice conditions prevailing.

Brief videos and photographs assisted in understanding the difficulties which arise in very high sea states, corresponding swells and vessel speeds.  Over a long period of time data on these conditions have been collected all over the world including the Southern Ocean from fixed and free floating buoys. Dr. Ballard’s work involves collating and breaking down all of this information and translating it into the terms of Naval Architecture. It is from the science of Naval Architecture and Engineering that Dr Ballard has built his professional career. He emphasized that his investigations were not in any way connected with the design of icebreakers.

The work carried out by Dr Ballard which resulted in the paper co-written with the Deputy Director of Naval Architecture and presented in Sydney and was the basis of this lecture, was in fact not done before the design and build of the Aotearoa or OPV’s . In that sense it was too late to be of value to these vessels but of course is of use in a practical sense were it available on vessels encountering bad weather in conditions where bergy bits or growlers could be in the mix.

Concern was expressed from the floor of the meeting that the NZ OPV’s such is their design and size should even be considered for operation in ant-arctic waters.

The Warden thanked Dr Ballard for his address and recounted his response to an invitation to take a navy frigate, which he was in command of, through icy waters off Canada which was a firm NO.

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September Meeting

Yesterday 17 members attended our monthly meeting.

Following a social half hour and lunch, our member Captain Raminder Anand gave a both informative and entertaining talk on his experience with Maersk Line.

Prior to his studying at Victoria University last year and following a seagoing career leading to a Masters Certificate,  Raminder was employed by Maersk Line in the development of their electronic systems for the monitoring and management of their vessel and land-side operations. 

Maersk is a shipping company active in ocean and inland freight  and port operations.

With it’s growth Maersk identified the need to grow a 24/7 real-time system enabling their senior managers to, at any time, oversee what was going on in their logistics chain and capital investments, thereby maximizing efficiency and performance.

Fine detail in the such as supplying their ships Masters with hand held electronic devices which are  used to record significant events in a ships minute by minute activity (pilot aboard, first line ashore, shoreside labour aboard etc.etc.) became part of the process.

Such information continues to be part of the ships logbook, the completion of which is required by maritime law. Not unexpectedly this hardware innovation inevitably occasioned push back from ships masters but were accepted as being necessary, that was, after due consultation .

In regional offices a wall sized array of computer linked screens allow close investigation and examination of elemental events in the network and permit improvements to be identified as being necessary.

As Raminder rightly indicated “this is a far cry from the days of tramp-ship operation of vessels moving from port to port awaiting or hoping to pick up a fortuitous cargo”

In thanking Raminder for allowing us an insight into what goes on in the operation of mainstream shipping in the world to-day Eric presented him with a Company tie.

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Wellington Meeting – Feb 2020

The first meeting of the year was held to-day at the Bolton Hotel.

Eighteen persons including Guest Speaker Richard Ford and potential full member Martin Harper were in attendance.

Before sitting down to an excellent curry lunch Warden Eric introduced Richard and Martin both of whom are colleagues of Jenny Cuttriss and working at TAIC, and Raminder Annand and Mike Emery who are new Full Members.

He also  took the opportunity to welcome back, Jack Hutchings from overseas and Iain Hill from the Wairarapa!

After lunch and before Richard’s address, Eric presented Raminder and Mike with their membership certificates. He also took time to report on the Branch’s representation at the “Otaki” memorial ceremony held at Otaki College last Monday. This is an event on the Branch’s calendar which marks the anniversary of the sinking of the SS “Otaki” towards the end of the first World War.

In giving his talk, Richard Ford, aided by a computer and projector held the attention of the meeting for nearly an hour. He back-grounded the mission of TAIC and importantly, the part he plays in accident investigation.

Whilst admitting that he did not have a maritime background he centered his value to accident inquiries by citing Arthur Conan Doyle’s quotation “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data“. Richards mission is to gather data, thereby giving support to the outcome of a marine accident investigation. We were all left in no doubt as to Richard’s ability to gather, at a later date, the finest of detail of an incident which may have led up to an accident/calamity. For illustrative purposes he used two case studies of accidents investigated by TAIC.

By way of real-time, full-time recorders which are international government mandated requirements on vessels over 3000 tonnes there is not much which goes on on a vessel in terms of navigation or indeed any other operation on the ship which cannot be retrieved for inspection/examination purposes either immediately or at a later date.

As one of the older brigade I could not help but be reminded of the theme of George Orwell’s book “1984” which warned of the dangers of totalitarianism to society. Was, or is, this just one step along the way to a Big Brother in the maritime world?

Richard was to be thanked for bringing many of us into the very modern world at sea, that is without even contemplating the possibilities of “Artificial Intelligence”

Preoccupation with the seriousness of Richards presentation was greatly relieved when, at the conclusion of the meeting, he asked for the application to join Master Mariners as an Associate of the Branch and Martin Harper handed of his signed application to join us as a Full Member!!

All is well.

To conclude and by way of reference to Rule 4, Objects of the Company which refers to advising and assisting Master Mariners : I would ask that any advice and or assistance, that could given to Captain Raminder Anand, in his pursuit to establishing a future and career here in NZ for him and his family, would be welcomed by him.

Information on next months meeting which includes the Charter presentation to Captain John Mansell and the Branch’s AGM will be given at a later date.

The date for the meeting is Wednesday the 8th April – that is if we are not all in quarantine!

Ken Watt


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All Person Errors

Copied from GCaptain 19 February 2020     By Captain George Livingstone –

There has been a lot of work in the last few decades directed toward accident prevention in marine transportation.  We know most accidents are caused by human error, importantly, a series of errors. The much talked about error chain comes to mind, and eliminating single person errors. The theory is that reducing single person errors will reduce accidents overall.

So how is it working? Long term accident studies indicate there has been a reduction in high frequency, low consequence accidents, the low hanging fruit so to speak. Credit is well deserved there.

What about low frequency, high consequence accidents? Not good results, and therein lies a problem. How do we go about preventing something that has very significant consequences but rarely occurs? Aviation struggled with the same problem for decades, what did they do?


Two years ago, John Konrad introduced my brother, Grant Livingstone, and me to some works that a Col John Boyd (USAF) had completed in the late 1960’s. Col Boyd, a decorated combat flyer in three wars, developed a theory he identified as the OODA Loop, explained in a piece published by John Konrad, Grant Livingstone and John Merrigan in October of last year in gCaptain. All of us were very interested by Col Boyd’s theory, as it seemed to hit the mark regarding problems in modern-day marine transportation accident prevention. 

US Military Fighter Doctrine

Col Boyd felt that US military fighter pilots in Korea and later Vietnam had lost critical combat skills. As early jet technology advanced and became very complicated, pilots became more ‘check box’ flyers resulting in the erosion of critical thinking. Col Boyd felt this was proven by the serious losses in actual combat. Aftermuch research and self-searching, Col Boyd came up with the OODA Loop theory, the idea of continuous observation, orientation, decision and action(observe-orient-decide-act) when in combat. He emphasized that the loop is actually a set of interacting thoughts that should be kept in continuous operation while engaged in combat (or any other critical operation, including ship movement). Anyone that can process this cycle quickly, observing and reacting to unfolding events more rapidly will win the outcome of events. This neatly folds into marine transportation operations, especially when things are beginning to unravel.

With the best intentions, is modern day marine transportation facing the same dilemma as U.S. military fighter doctrine faced in the late 50’s and 60’s? Have we drifted off course?


The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is responsible for developing and maintaining a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping including safety, environment, legal matters, technical cooperation, maritime security and efficiency of shipping. There are over 60 IMO legal instruments guiding regulatory development to improve safety at sea. Some of the more well-known:

  • MARPOL Convention
  • SOLAS Convention
    • ISM Code
    • ISPS Code
  • STCW Convention
  • International Code of Signals
  • International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea
  • International Ballast Water Management Convention

The IMO enacted Port State Control (PSC) Authority to allow domestic maritime authorities such as coast guards to inspect foreign shipping at the ports of many port states.


The working professional mariner may have reached a point of saturation over the myriad of maritime regulations, statutes and codes meant to improve safety at sea. The average master, chief engineer and senior shipboard staff are being forced to address constant inspections and check lists through Port State Control to the detriment of the safe evolution of the vessel. Even the likes of Bridge Resource Management (BRM) training becomes just another box to check rather than a critical learning event. Are officers so over saturated that they have lost focus on the primary metric, the safe movement of the vessel and its cargo?

Check List Culture

And therein may lie the crux of the matter, has the effort toward accident prevention in marine transportation created a check list culture? What if we all got off track? Has the well-intended focus through ISO/ISM in preventing accidents led us to a place of putting critical thinking at risk? It is one thing to discuss theory and diligently follow check lists, and quite another to successfully manage developing crisis situations in real time. Have we become more about documenting than operational excellence?  

Continuous Loops and Recurring Cycles

Col Boyd felt that the OODA Loop theory served to explain the nature of surprise and shaping operations in a way that unifies Gestalt psychology and cognitive science in a comprehensive way. In other words, he believed that using a continuous loop, in a recurring cycle by all involved will create a winning situation.  

One of the critical points raised is that all involved in an evolution should be using the OODA Loop, specifically trained to use critical, out-of-the-box thinking skills, in a continuous and recurring cycle. On ships that means everyone, not just the captain and pilot, including tugs, all in the game, all aware, and not afraid to ask questions. The fact is, it may be a dereliction to remain silent, there is too much at stake.  

Has the effort generated toward preventing one person error morphed into all person errors?  

Captain George Livingstone is a San Francisco Bar Pilot, co-author of ‘Tug Use Offshore’, contributing author of ‘IMPA On Pilotage’ and a regular contributor to gCaptain.

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Wellington October Meeting

The October meeting was held on 09 October. There were 19 attendees,

Before lunch commenced a very professional address was given by Derek
Nind, CEO of Centreport. His talk was revolved around the recovery
efforts to return the port to a fully operational  state following the
infrastructure damage resulting from the Kaikoura earthquake experienced
nearly three years ago.

Major decisions have already been made whereby existing buildings, some
relatively new, have been, or are being, demolished, never to be
replaced. The previous policy of using reclaimed land for commercial
building purposes has been overturned.

The decision on the location of a multi-user ferry terminal is still
under consideration.

Putting aside the ongoing revenue from ferries and the import of oil
through the Seaview Terminal the Company’s main income stream is from
the export of logs and the handling of containers.

With regard to the latter, the port has concluded contracts with NZR to
carry cargo (made up mainly of containers and logs) from inland hubs to
the port of Wellington. Centreport established these hubs.  This measure
filled a gap left by the shipping companies when in the 1990’s they
abandoned the practice of providing shippers with empty containers for
packing and transportation back to the port (at the shippers cost).

As to the best way forward Derek spoke of the assistance he was getting
by consulting with various companies with expertise in four specific
areas. More importantly he has created a team, within the company, to
investigate and make decisions on issues such as length of berth, number
of container cranes, best container handling equipment and the draft in
the channel leading into the port.

All these are matters are of vital importance with decisions to be made
in a situation of a very uncertain future. NZ has many ports offering
services to container vessels. The effect of a damaged port and fierce
competition means that Centreport is challenged to maintain and
hopefully grow its business. It is holding on at present but hopes to
make progress with the passage of time.

To expand on his talk Derek offered a bus trip to and around the port
area to allow Company members to see for themselves the difficult tasks
facing Centreport.

It is hoped to take up this offer early next year.

In concluding the meeting, the Warden offered Captain Nic Campbell the
Branch’s congratulations on reaching his 90th birthday as well as
reminding members of the Christmas lunch arranged to take place
Wednesday 20th November.

Ken Watt


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Wellington September Meeting

There were nineteen at today’s meeting including Captain Dave McEwan RNZN who took away an application for membership form.

After lunch, a presentation on oil tankers and their development since the 1950’s was given by Mike Pryce. Growth both in terms of size, 12,000 tons average in the 1950’s to the 500,000 + ton monsters of the 1990’s and increased sophistication. The latter seeing hand operated wheel valves replaced with complete control systems managed from one location.

Aided by a selection from what must be a very comprehensive library of pictures, Mike gave a very interesting account of explosions, groundings, collisions and other disasters experienced in the world of tankers. Of note was a Russian designed vessel for use in the ice fields in the Arctic whereby it was operated in ice by going astern (ahead?) in ice but ahead with the pointed end (bow) in front in the usual manner, when out of the ice.

We all left the meeting with a greater understanding of the differences that came with the introduction of LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) carriers which was, for me anyway, much longer ago than I thought to be the case. Natural gas is bought to a liquid state by cooling to -160 degrees C. which reduces its volume by 600 times. No tank cleaning necessary and elimination of the inherent dangers that accompany this operation.

Thank you Mike for sharing much of your 23 year sea-going life experience with us. I am totally overawed  by your dedication to recording every ship you sailed on, every ton of cargo you carried, every port you visited and every mile you traveled.

Next month our guest speaker will by Derek Nind, Chief Executive of CentrePort who will bring us up to date with progress in returning Wellington’s port to it’s former self after the devastation of the Kaikoura Earthquake.

I shall be away in the week before this meeting but you will be contacted and reminded of the date so you can respond allowing the Hotel to be advised, for their catering purposes, of the numbers expected to attend.

November Meeting – Please put on your calendar Wednesday 20th as the date we shall be having our Christmas Lunch when wives, partners and any other guests are cordially invited to attend.

Ken Watt


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August Meeting

A total of 36 persons sat down to lunch on Wednesday 14th. As was arranged, the meeting was held in conjunction with River Press who were launching a new book. The gathering was a very congenial affair made all the better by the excellent meal put on by the Bolton.

Sixteen of our members hosted the publisher, writer, descendants of ships captain, Henry Rose (about whom the book was written) and eight other invitees made up mainly of ex New Zealand Shipping Company sea-going and shore staff.

We were pleased to greet Helen Glyde who, apart from being a direct descendant of Captain Rose, is widow of Jim Glyde  who was Warden of the Wellington Branch some 15 years ago. Shortly after that time Jim and Helen moved to live in Hamilton and sadly Jim passed away in March last year.

On welcoming all to the meeting, Eric took the opportunity to say a few words of congratulation and present Nic Campbell with his Certificate of  Life Membership. This honour was decided at the AGM of the Company last week.

Nic has been a stalwart member of the Branch for many years and has committed a lot of his time to the production of “On Deck”. Well deserved applause followed.

At the end of the meal and after Carol Dawber (publisher) had introduced herself, a very detailed and at times amusing review of “Driven by the Wind” was given by John Brown. 

In the opening sentence of the book there is reference to Mompox where Captain Henry was born. Mompox (pronounced Mompos) is way way up the Magdalena River in Columbia. It is difficult to find even on a modern atlas but someone ( Julian Lillico ?) at the back of the room voiced that he had heard that it was a good run ashore!

The book is well worth reading in recounting the life story of a successful Master Mariner who at one time in his career was Chairman of the Wellington Harbour Board. If you decide you don’t want a copy go to your local library and they will get a copy in.

Attached are photo’s taken at the meeting.

Ken Watt

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Wellington July Meeting

The July meeting, attended by 16 members and three guests, was held at the Bolton Hotel today. Two of the guests (Elmar Gailitis and Ian Scott) are members of the Navy League and Captain Dave McEwan RNZN, guest of Eric, is a prospective member.

Unfortunately our planned speaker, Derek Nind (CEO of CentrePort) had to cancel at short notice, so, as an alternative, I personally filled the position.

In the last four and a half years, worldwide centennial services have been held marking the loss of life at battles and naval engagements in the Great War. One of these ceremonies, which must surely be the last, took place in the Orkney Islands at the Lyness Naval Cemetery, Scapa Flow, less than three weeks ago. It was not well publicized and I do not think that New Zealand had any direct representation at the ceremony.

Under the heading of Links with the Past  and assisted by two videos and a cd recording, I gave the audience a soft maritime history lesson. The account led up to, included  and told the story of the aftermath, of the scuttling of the German  Grand Fleet in Scapa Flow in 1919.

The talk also provided me with the opportunity to indulge myself with a personal discourse on my family, one of whom was witness to that event.

Favorable comments after my dialogue included that “it was a bit different”.

Derek Nind is on the speaker list for later in the year. 

Lew Henderson reported on his attendance at the NZ Maritime Law Society Advanced Litigation Skills mock trial where he represented the Branch. He said it was a very worthwhile experience.

At our meeting next month we have been asked to co-host a lunch prior to the launch of a new maritime book. The publisher is very enthusiastic and talks of speeches being given by MPs and other important dignitaries. We shall keep you informed as plans develop. For your interest I attach a flyer about the book which explains all about Captain Henry Rose, about whom the book is written.

Ken Watt


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