Maritime NZ response to TAIC report into the fatal Enchanter capsizing

11 August 2023

The capsizing of the Enchanter, on 20 March 2022, was a tragic incident.

The thoughts of those at Maritime NZ go out to everyone impacted by the events of that evening.

Maritime NZ Director, Kirstie Hewlett, says this was a complicated response, requiring aircraft to quickly respond from around the top of the North Island, which played a key role in five people being rescued.

"I want to thank everyone who was involved in the response, from our people at RCCNZ, through to those who went out in trying conditions, to undertake rescues and then continue to search for the missing," Ms Hewlett says.

The report contains several recommendations directed to Maritime NZ. While others, focusing on search and rescue, are connected to the work undertaken by Maritime NZ’s Rescue Coordination Centre.

"We partially accept the recommendations directed to us by the Commission," she says.

This report contains recommendations relating to Maritime NZ’s supervision and work with surveyors, who examine commercial vessels to confirm that the condition of their structure, machinery and equipment comply with the applicable maritime and marine protection rules.

We partially accept the recommendations regarding surveyors. This is because we already engage with, and notify, surveyors around rule and regulation changes and provide clarification around the intent of rules.

"This includes running regular conferences, seminars and providing regular industry updates on rule and technology changes. As well as providing technical advice and support where needed. We also work closely with surveyors on the development of new rules and amendment to rules, like we are currently on the 40 series rules.

"We are undertaking work to further strengthen our approach to monitoring surveyors, and are currently out consulting on an increase to our capacity to support this. We appreciate that there are dozens of surveyors working up and down the country, and we know it is important to ensure they are undertaking their roles appropriately and to high standards. We will consider the Commission’s recommendations and observations further as part of this work." Ms Hewlett says

Maritime NZ is considering the recommendation around requirements for automated identification systems (AIS) to be fitted on passenger vessels outside inshore limits and the stowage of life jackets.

"The matter around AIS systems is already one that is on our regulatory reform programme to explore. Progressing it could improve response times and can accurately give location data. The stowage of life jackets is something new we will look at. Both Rules changes will also need to be considered alongside other priorities. Ultimately, it will be for Ministers to decide whether to approve the development of new rules," Ms Hewlett says.

The Rescue Coordination Centre will also take interest in the recommendations around search and rescue.

"After the incident, RCCNZ undertook an internal review into its coordination of the response, and has since made several improvements to its procedures.

"We will support any response by Te Manatū Waka and the New Zealand Search and Rescue Secretariat," Ms Hewlett says.

As the matter is before the courts, we are not in a position to comment further. 

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