New Zealand fines Captain and Chief Officer for giving false information

3 October 2019

New Zealand has fined the Captain and Chief Officer of an Isle of Man-flagged bulk carrier for lying to the authorities, after a crew member passed out in the ship's hold.

Captain Walter Damian and Chief Officer Ian Dingaling of the 32,690dwt Emilie Bulker, pleaded guilty in Wellington District Court on Thursday 19 September, to providing false information to Maritime New Zealand officials. They were fined NZ$13,500 and NZ$4,050 respectively.

The incident happened in the port of Tauranga on the North Island of New Zealand on Friday 6 September 2019.

A docker working on board the 2010-built ship discovered the 40-year-old Filipino crew member unconscious in the poorly ventilated hold and notified Maritime NZ.

The hold contained palm kernels, which is known to deplete oxygen and build up gas in enclosed spaces.

Fire and emergency services rescued the crew member and rushed him to Tauranga hospital where he was placed in an induced coma.

He was discharged from hospital on Tuesday 10 September.

Capt. Damian and CO Dingaling pleaded guilty to falsely claiming that hold assessment and gas tests had been done. Capt. Damian also pleaded guilty to permitting dangerous activity.

A reparation payment of NZ$10,000 for emotional harm was awarded to the victim.

The ship was detained, but later released.

'Maritime NZ takes all steps to ensure the safety of maritime operations in New Zealand, including aboard foreign ships in our waters, in accordance with international law,' said Maritime NZ's Central Region compliance manager Michael-Paul Abbott.

'As well as taking the prosecution, we have shared information about the incident and this ship with other Asia-Pacific countries' maritime authorities and reported it to the Isle of Man registry.

'This is part of an international system for monitoring ships that are involved in incidents – we help each other keep shipping safe.'