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Guilty pleas in stranded bulk carrier case

The carrier in the Tauranga Harbour entrance on July 6. Photo: Stu James.

The master and chief engineer of the MV Funing have pleaded guilty to charges laid against them by Maritime NZ.

The charges were filed following an investigation into the stranding of the bulk carrier on July 6.

Maritime NZ says there were breaches of section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act, which prohibits “dangerous activity involving ships or maritime products”.

“Maritime NZ confirms that following a hearing in the Tauranga District Court yesterday relating to the MV Funing incident, the master and chief engineer have entered guilty pleas to a charge each under the Maritime Transport Act (MTA) s65(1)(a) and MTA s65(2)(a) respectively.”

The charge under Section 65(1)(a) is that the vessel was “operated in a manner which caused unnecessary danger or risk to other persons or property, including the passengers and crew of the MV Funing”.

The maximum penalty is 12 months’ imprisonment or a $10,000 fine.

The charge under section 65(2)(a) is that the Chief Engineer caused or permitted the MV Funing, to be operated, maintained, or serviced, in a manner that caused unnecessary danger or risk to any other persons or property, including the passengers and crew of the MV Funing.

The maximum penalty is 12 months’ imprisonment or a $10,000 fine.

The pair are due back in court for sentencing at 2.15pm on September 15.

“In the meantime, the investigation into the incident is continuing. Maritime NZ can’t make any further comment while the matter is before the court.”

At about 12.30am on Monday, July 6, Funing suffered an engine failure while leaving the port with a Port of Tauranga maritime pilot on board.

Without power, it could not steer and while drifting due to the wind and tide, it snagged the chains holding a buoy marking the shipping channel.

The tide and current then pushed it to the other side of the channel, where it stopped near Mauao.

Port of Tauranga tugs came to its aid, towing it to deeper water and safe anchorage where it remained for the next week.

Dive inspections identified damage to the propeller and rudder.

It had been at the Port of Tauranga undergoing repairs, before it left on Sunday, headed to Singapore.

The vessel is currently at Auckland outer anchorage in the Hauraki Gulf as they required calmer waters to undertake further ballasting of the No 3 cargo hold, to stabilise it before it heads out to open waters.

 

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