New Zealand Fines Captain, Chief Officer for Providing False Info After Crewman Passed Out in Hold

Photo courtesy Maritime NZ

The Captain and Chief Officer of an Isle of Man-flagged bulk carrier have been fined in New Zealand for giving false information to authorities after a crew member passed out in the ship’s hold.

Captain Walter Damian and Chief Officer Ian Dingaling pleaded guilty in court last week to providing false information to Maritime New Zealand officials and fined $13,500 and $ 4,050, respectively. Captain Damian also pleaded guilty to permitting dangerous activity.

The incident occurred at the Port of Tauranga on Friday, 6 September 2019, when the crewman was working in a hold containing palm kernel of the Emilie Bulker. Palm kernel is known to deplete oxygen in the air.

Fire and emergency personnel rescued the victim from the ship’s hold and transported him to the Tauranga Hospital, where he was placed in an induced coma. The victim was eventually discharged from hospital on September 10.

According to Maritime New Zealand, the Captain and Chief Officer gave false information claiming that assessment and gas tests of the cargo-hold had been done, and the hold was safe to work in.

“Oxygen depletion and gas build up in ships’ holds is an internationally known risk and a major concern for Maritime NZ. International law requires operators to have a Safety Management System (SMS) for a ship which sets out safety procedures to ensure that entry into enclosed spaces like cargo holds is properly evaluated for risk and that those risks are effectively managed,” Maritime New Zealand said in a press release.

The victim in this case will receive a reparation payment of $10,000 for emotional harm.

“People’s safety is our primary concern. 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,” commented commented Maritime NZ’s Central Region Compliance Manager, Michael-Paul Abbott.