Strange Appeal Court Decision

A recent New Zealand Court of Appeal decision appears to cast doubt over the Master’s authority on board New Zealand ships.

Quoting a newspaper report, the written decision said that the officer of the watch was in “charge” of the ship because he “overrode the autopilot and undertook manual steering” (a strange deduction). It further says that when the control of the ship passed from the master to the mate, the mate became the master.  

Does this mean that an officer of the watch inherits all the master’s responsibilities and does it mean that a helmsman is in “charge” of a ship when he is on the wheel?   


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