New Zealand Ferry Company Fined After Grounding
The owners and operators of Wellington passenger ferry City Cat, East by West Company Limited, have been fined NZ$380,000 ($243,700) after the vessel grounded on rocks near Karaka Bay, New Zealand, in April 2017.
The fine was handed down for failing to ensure the safety of passengers and crew on board and other sea-users. An investigation also found that the company’s vessels had been regularly exceeding safe speeds close to shore.
On April 16, 2017 at approximately 10.45 am, City Cat was travelling at 17 knots, in a five knot area close to the rocky shoreline at Karaka Bay when it grounded on a rock. This caused significant damage to the vessel and minor injuries to passengers who were jolted off their seats.
City Cat was on a regular run between Wellington city and the suburb of Seatoun on a clear, calm day. On board were 16 passengers, a deckhand and the skipper.
City Cat carried the general navigational chart of Wellington harbor but not the detailed chart required by the Maritime Rules. The detailed chart shows a sudden shallowing of the water, and weed in the area 70 meters from shore. (Weed indicates the presence of rocks.) The weed is ordinarily visible to vessels travelling in that area at the correct speed of five knots.
During the investigation into the grounding, it was discovered East by West skippers regularly breached Maritime Rules by travelling at excessive speeds close to land. Speeding continued after the grounding, from April 17, 2017 to April 12, 2018.
East by West Company Limited received fines of NZ$280,000 for the grounding and NZ$100,000 for travelling at excessive speeds closed to land. The skipper of the City Cat pleaded guilty to a charge of operating a ship in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk to other persons and was convicted and fined NZ$1,688 ($1,083) in November last year.