Vessel owner and skipper fails to meet legal obligations

04 August 2023

A skipper whose vessel sank off the South Island last year was operating it unlawfully at the time, failing to have obtained the required out of water survey.

Wayne Jolly was the sole director and shareholder of Aurora Oceania Limited, which owned and operated the commercial fishing vessel, Aurora.

On 7 March, 2022, the vessel sank about a nautical mile off the Catlins coast

Mr Jolly has this week been sentenced after formally pleading guilty to one charge of failing to comply with the provisions and conditions of the vessel’s Maritime Transport Operator Certificate under s 69B of the Maritime Transport Act 1994.

“While we cannot confirm this failure to comply has a link to the sinking of the vessel in March 2022, the purpose of the relevant requirements is to protect vessels, the environment and the lives of those on-board.

“As the vessel was lost at sea, Maritime NZ investigators were unable to examine its physical state, and in turn confirm what caused it to sink,” Investigation’s Manager at Maritime NZ John Maxwell says.

As the sole director of the company, Wayne Jolly was required to ensure any ship run under his company’s management was operating in line with the required safety management systems for the vessel.

In order for a vessel, such as the Aurora to be compliant, it needs to have a current Certificate of Survey, these are issued by maritime surveyors.

Owners and operators have the primary responsibility for their vessels safety at all times.

“The Aurora’s CoS was valid until 2023, but subject to a range of conditions including requiring it to have an out-of-water survey by March 2021. This survey was never undertaken.

“Given the survey wasn’t completed by its March 2021 due date, the Certificate of Survey was invalid when it sank a year later.

“Failing to complete the out-of-water survey meant there wasn’t up to date information on the condition on the vessel nor an opportunity to identify any safety risks that need to be fixed” John Maxwell says.

Maritime NZ says it is vital operators understand their safety responsibilities, not only in respect of their vessels but also the crew and our environment.

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