Bulker Captain pleads guilty to dangerous navigation during cyclone
New Zealand’s maritime authority is prosecuting the captain of a Panama-registered bulker for operating his vessel in an unsafe manner “placing the vessel and the people on board in unnecessary danger or risk”
Auckland – New Zealand’s maritime authority is prosecuting the captain of a Panama-registered bulker for operating his vessel in an unsafe manner “placing the vessel and the people on board in unnecessary danger or risk:” the captain has agreed to plead guilty to the charges and is facing up to 12 months in prison or a fine of N$10,000 (US$6,200) when he is sentenced in July. The case stems from the operation of the “Spinnaker SW”, a 31,657 dwt dry bulk carrier.
The Equasis database lists the owners of the vessel as a Taiwanese corporation and the management as Shih Wei Navigation Co., also of Taiwan which manages over 30 vessels. The bulker is 11 years old with a clean inspection record according to Equasis, including inspections days before the storm in Port Chalmers, New Zealand, and after the storm in Tauranga. As first reported by the Bay of Plenty Times news outlet in New Zealand, the ship went to sea during the recent Cyclone Gabrielle, a severe tropical cyclone that devastated the North Island with its impact being felt as far away as Australia and Vanuatu. The storm is reported to have been the costliest on record in the Southern Hemisphere, with total damages estimated at more than US$8 billion.
At its peak winds were sustained at over 90 mph and the storm killed 11 people in New Zealand. The "Spinnaker SW” put to sea on February 14, 2023, after the peak of the storm from Mahia on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island intending to sail north along the coast to the Port of Tauranga. According to the summary of the case seen by the news outlet, the vessel was encountering winds at Force 7 (near gale on the Beaufort Wind Scale sustained above 30 mph) and seas above 20 feet.
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