Not keeping proper look-out – collision on Waitematā Harbour

16 May 2018

In a second, unrelated, case less than a week apart, another skipper has admitted not keeping proper look-out and has been fined.

In this case Maritime NZ prosecuted Alan Schofield, who was the master of one of Fullers Group Limited’s Auckland ferries, Seaflyte. Seaflyte had collided with a recreational boat.

Mr Schofield was charged under the Maritime Transport Act. He pleaded guilty and was fined $2,000 in the Auckland District Court today.

Maritime NZ Northern Regional Manager Neil Rowarth said the skipper is legally responsible to ensure a vessel has a proper look-out at all times by all available means in the conditions – in this case it was a still night with a lot of light reflection on the water.

“On calm nights light reflection is a known risk in the inner harbour,” Mr Rowarth said.  

“Many Auckland shipping operators’ have written this into their safety plans as a time when particular care is needed to prevent collisions on one of our busiest harbours.

“Ships’ lights and lights from land can reflect on the water and appear to be in more than one place.

“Skippers must be aware of this and keep proper look-out for the conditions.”

On the night of the collision, 11 September 2016, Seaflyte had left Auckland Basin at 8.10pmboundfor Bayswater Marina. Mr Schofield, two crew and two passengers were on board.

The collision happened a few minutes later at about 8.13pm.

Mr Schofield did not see the recreational boat until the vessels were 15 metres apart. He put Seaflyte’s engines into full reverse in an unsuccessful attempt to avoid collision.

No one was injured on either vessel. There was extensive damage to therecreational boat and less serious damage to Seaflyte.
Immediately after the collision Mr Schofield helped the two people on board the recreational boat and contacted Auckland Harbour Control to report the incident.

The Act prohibits “Unnecessary danger caused by holder of maritime document” and also makes it mandatory to comply with Maritime Rules (sections 64 and 66 of the Act). The maritime document held by Mr Schofield was his qualification that allowed him to be the master on ferries. The relevant Maritime Rule is “22.5 Look-out”.

In the previous case, on Friday last week the skipper of fishing boat Lady Sarah was fined $2,000 by the Christchurch District Court. Lady Sarah ran aground at night on Kaitorete Spit near the entrance to Lake Ellesmere because no one was keeping proper look-out and no one was in the wheelhouse. Lady Sarah’s insurers subsequently declared the vessel a total loss.

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