Southern maritime navigation on watchlist after incidents

Leda Maersk at Port Chalmers last year. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Leda Maersk at Port Chalmers last year. PHOTO: ODT FILES
Ship navigation in three southern areas - Otago Harbour, Milford Sound and the Snares Islands south of Stewart Island - is on the Transport Accident Investigation Commission watch list after a series of maritime incidents.

The move follows bulk carrier Molly Manx running aground in Otago Harbour last year, and cruise ship L'Austral hitting an object near the Snares Islands and striking a bank near the shoreline of Milford Sound, also last year.

The commission is also investigating the grounding of the Leda Maersk near Port Chalmers in June.

TAIC chief commissioner Jane Meares said poor bridge resource management was a common thread in the incidents, and in another in Tory Channel in the Marlborough Sounds.

Molly Manx ran aground because the ship's bridge team lost situational awareness, had not adequately monitored the ship's progress and lacked understanding of the passage plan and navigation equipment.

L'Austral had entered Milford Sound at night with a pilot, but the pilot lost situational awareness and the ship struck a stony bank near the base of Mitre Peak.

The commission found the bridge team had not made full use of the ship's electronic navigation systems, and when they noticed the ship was off track, did not tell the pilot until it was too late.

At the Snares, the cruise ship hit a submerged object.

A pilot did not need to be on board at the time, but there was poor bridge management and operation of the ship's electronic chart display and information system.

The watch list was TAIC's primary means of drawing the attention of regulators, operators, training providers and other to ``a matter of very high importance'', a spokesman said.

Ms Meares said bridge resource management was the effective management and use of all resources - human and technical - available to a ship's bridge team, to help ensure the safe completion of the vessel's voyage.

It had been a crucial tool for crew training worldwide for 25 years.

It involved maintaining situational awareness, communication to avoid misunderstanding, everyone knowing where the ship was going, and an ability to respond well to challenges, regardless of rank, personality or nationality.

Port Otago chief executive Kevin Winders could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

Environment Southland manages navigational safety within the Fiordland region.

It responded to a TAIC investigation into the Milford Sound incident recently, saying it had asked Navigatus Consulting to provide a risk assessment of the increasing number of cruise ships scheduled to visit Fiordland.

A spokeswoman said yesterday the organisation hoped to come to a decision on the issue towards the end of next week.

A TAIC investigation into the Leda Maersk grounding is ongoing.

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