Cruise ship measures progressing, council told

The Ovation of the Seas in Milford Sound this morning. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
The Ovation of the Seas in Milford Sound. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Environment Southland councillors have had an update on recommendations for navigational safety in Fiordland,

They were first made by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission, following the grounding of the cruise ship L'Austral in Milford Sound in February 2017.

Maritime manager Lyndon Cleaver began working on implementing the recommendations in July 2018 and councillors learned that several of them had progressed.

These include discussions with Port Otago and South Port for improving training for Fiordland pilots, including training frequency and pre-season simulator training.

While it was recommended night navigation be prohibited, if necessary, in certain passages, it was thought unnecessary with the additional training and the formulation of a pre-entry checklist.

The checklist is due to be ready for use by the start of the next season in October, when 134 scheduled cruise visits are planned. Mr Cleaver said Environment Southland commissioned Navigatus Consulting Ltd to produce an all-of-Fiordland safety management system, which is likely to be completed this year, and is expected to cost $30,500.

Cr Maurice Rodway acknowledged cruise ships could experience problems and said, "I hope we do have a really thorough belts and braces system in place to make sure this sort of thing just doesn't happen, doesn't get anywhere near [happening]."

Mr Cleaver said Fiordland posed the same risks as other ports of call but the area's remoteness meant emergency services could not quickly respond to an incident.

He said a monitoring programme was planned - "but when it is in place it will be used to physically check on cruise ships to ensure they are abiding by their obligations as a condition of entry into Fiordland".

He had previously said the areas in Fiordland most generally visited were Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound.

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