Emilie Bulker, the Captain and Chief Officer of an Isle of Man flagged bulk carrier, gave false information to Maritime NZ after a crewman passed out because of lack of oxygen in the ship’s poorly-ventilated hold.
On Thursday, at the Wellington District Court, Captain Walter Damian and Chief Officer Ian Dingaling pleaded guilty for providing Maritime NZ with false information. They were fined $13,500 and $ 4,050 respectively. Captain Damian also pleaded guilty for permitting dangerous activity. A reparation payment of $10,000 was awarded to the victim for emotional harm.
The incident happened on the 6th of September 2019 at the Port of Tauranga on Friday, when the crewman was working in a hold containing palm kernel. Palm kernel is known to deplete oxygen in the air.
The unconscious man was rescued from the ship’s cargo hold by the Fire and Emergency NZ. He was then taken to the Tauranga Hospital where he was placed in an induced coma. He was discharged from hospital on the 10th of September 2019.
On investigation being done by Maritime NZ, it was found out that the Captain and Chief Officer had given 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 an internationally known risk and a major concern for Maritime NZ. According to International law, operators are required to have a Safety Management System (SMS) for a ship that sets out safety procedures to ensure that entry into enclosed spaces like cargo holds is properly evaluated for risk and that those risks are effectively managed.
“People’s safety is our primary concern,” Maritime NZ’s Central Region Compliance Manager, Michael-Paul Abbott said.
“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,” Mr Abbott said.
“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.”
PR Reference: maritimenz.govt.nz