A fishing boat crewman who had left the bridge unattended when the vessel collided with a bulk carrier outside the Lyttelton Heads has admitted a charge under the Maritime Transport Act.
Christopher Anderson, who had been employed by the fishing company for 12 years, admitted the charge of causing unnecessary danger or risk to the Leila Jo fishing boat, and the bulk carrier, and the people on board, in the incident on January 12, 2020.
Christchurch District Court Judge Quentin Hix remanded him for sentencing on March 2, but did not call for any reports. Defence counsel Jeff McCall and Maritime New Zealand have agreed that only a fine is needed.
Other parties involved in the collision also face charges but have not yet entered pleas and their cases have been remanded to a case review hearing in February. They do not have suppression but Judge Hix instructed that their names should not appear in this report.
The Leila Jo is a 24m fishing vessel which was returning to Lyttelton from a two-day long fishing trip when the collision occurred. It was a clear night with minimal wind and calm seas.
The bulk carrier was leaving port when it acquired the Leila Jo on its radar at a distance of 3 nautical miles. The bulk carrier made two course alterations as the vessels approached.
During that time, the Leila Jo had taken no action to avoid the collision. At 0.07 nautical miles, the bulk carrier sounded its horn to attract the fishing vessel's attention and made the second of the turns, but it was too late to avoid the collision.
Anderson had left the bridge to go to the kitchen to make some food and then wake the skipper.
No-one was on the bridge while he was away. An intercom could have been used to contact the skipper as instructed, to wake him a certain distance from Godley Head.
The skipper was returning to the wheelhouse when he heard the bulk carrier sound its horn and saw the vessel ahead.
It was too late for any action to be taken to avoid the collision, which caused bruising and sore ribs to the skipper when he was flung into the side of the ship.
The Leila Jo struck the bulk carrier on its port side. Maritime New Zealand's summary of facts includes photographs of the damage the fishing boat received to its bow area.
- by David Clarkson, NZ Herald