Collision report released

18 November 2010, 1:00pm

A report released today into a collision between Japanese and New Zealand vessels in the Southern Ocean highlights the need for all masters to exercise restraint and ensure safety remains their highest priority, says Maritime New Zealand (MNZ).

The Director of MNZ, Catherine Taylor, said its report into the collision between the New Zealand-registered whaling protest vessel Ady Gil and the Japanese vessel Shonan Maru No. 2 on 6 January 2010, found no evidence that either vessel master had deliberately caused the collision. However, both were responsible for contributing to and failing to respond to the “close quarters” situation that led to the accident.

The collision, which occurred in international waters about 165 nautical miles north of Antarctica, resulted in 3.5m of the Ady Gil’s bow being sheared off. Some Ady Gil crew members also sustained injuries.

“This accident is a wake-up call to all vessel masters, no matter whether they’re operating in the Southern Ocean or the Hauraki Gulf, that they are ultimately responsible for the safety of their vessels and all on board. This means consistently following internationally recognised safe seafaring practice, which includes maintaining a proper lookout at all times and following established anti-collision regulations.”

Ms Taylor said previous encounters between whaling and protest vessels had contributed to a tense operating environment and probable uncertainty over each others’ intentions, but this was no excuse.

“MNZ reiterates the Government’s and the international maritime community’s calls for all masters to take their responsibilities seriously and exercise appropriate restraint, particularly when operating in an environment as isolated and as unforgiving as the Southern Ocean, where access to any assistance is extremely limited.

“We also echo the International Maritime Organization’s denouncement of any action that puts lives at risk, and reaffirm the responsibility that all vessel masters have to ensure the safety of lives at sea.”

Ms Taylor said preparation of MNZ’s report had involved analysing a significant amount of information, including technical data from both vessels, interviews with witnesses, and 25 hours of video footage. It had been drafted with input from MNZ’s own team of master mariners, and independently reviewed by an external maritime expert. All parties involved had cooperated with MNZ’s investigation, she said.

“This report is the culmination of an extremely robust and thorough investigation, based on the facts and information made available, and we acknowledge all parties who came forward and assisted us.”

Ms Taylor said MNZ’s role was to independently investigate maritime accidents involving New Zealand vessels or vessels within New Zealand territorial waters, with the prime purpose of determining their cause and whether there were any regulatory or safety issues requiring further action. While MNZ had no jurisdiction over foreign vessels operating in international waters, it had submitted its report to the IMO and other countries with responsibility for vessels involved in whaling and protest activities, calling for their attention to its findings.

Media note: Copies of the final report and media pack (including downloadable sound files for broadcast media) will also be available from 1.00pm.

Go to the Ady Gil and Shonan Maru No. 2 investigation report page

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