Cruise line to pay $250K

A cruise ship company whose procedural botches led to the death of a crew member has been ordered to pay his grieving family more than $250,000.

Allan Alarde Navales died on Emerald Princess on February 9, 2017 while topping up a nitrogen cylinder - a procedure in which he had never been trained, and for which no records were kept.

The vessel, operated by Princess Cruise Lines Ltd, was carrying 3115 passengers between Australia and New Zealand and was docked at Port Otago at the time of the incident.

The company appeared in the Dunedin District Court in November last year, after pleading guilty to a charge under the Maritime Transport Act but the final outcome was reserved.

Judge Kevin Phillips released his judgement yesterday which presented Princess Cruise Lines with a total bill of $274,483.

All but $15,000 (the fine) would go to Mr Navales' family, he ruled. The bulk of that figure - $250,000 - was to cover "consequential loss of earnings'' to the victim's family because of his death.

Prosecutor Dale La Hood initially suggested a sum of more than $800,000 should be ordered to cover the loss of wages over a 30-year period.

But Judge Phillips rejected a mathematical approach in favour of a more "broad brush'' determination.

The court heard Mr Navales' Philippines-based family relied heavily on the money he sent home to support his ailing 63-year-old mother, his daughter Raslan and two other siblings with serious health problems.

The victim's sister Anna had now left her job to care for the family.

Mr Navales' mother described him as "a responsible man, a generous son, a good brother and a loving father'' who was striving to lift the family out of poverty.

While docked, Emerald Princess crew members were tasked with checking the pressure of nitrogen cylinders used to launch lifeboats in the event of an emergency.

Mr Navales and Bernabe Santos carried out the maintenance work on boat 24, filling the canisters to the required level.

Once it had been refilled, Mr Navales instructed Mr Santos to start the hydraulic system.

After a minute of operation, one of the cylinders exploded while the victim stood beside it.

The force of the blast caused another nitrogen container to be thrown on to the wharf.

It spun around in an area where passengers and crew were walking but no-one else was injured.

"The most obvious sign that I would describe as `alarm bells' would be the obvious visible corrosion to areas on the cylinders which appears to have gone entirely unnoticed by anyone, or if not unnoticed, totally unreported through the 'chain of command','' Judge Phillips said.

It was "a recipe for tragedy'', Mr La Hood said.

Other nitrogen canisters on board also showed evidence of heavy wear. The cylinder that exploded had a thickness of 1.52mm in the failure area, compared with new ones that were 6.2mm thick.

The judgement comes on the back of the release of the Transport Accident Investigation Commission report into the accident.

It highlighted an urgent need for "consistent and proper standards to be developed at a global level for maintaining, inspecting, testing and, where necessary, replacing high-pressure cylinders associated with stored energy systems on board ships''.

Princess Cruise Lines paid more than $100,000 to Mr Navales' family immediately after the tragedy, as part of a contractual obligation.

A company spokesman stressed it took immediate actions to ensure that such an accident could not happen again.

"Our thoughts and prayers remain with the crew member's family.''

rob.kidd@odt.co.nz

 

 

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