Captain of Panama-flagged bulker prosecuted in NZ over unsafe work practices

Spinnaker SW Image: MarineTraffic.com/Geoffrey V. Spinnaker SW

Maritime New Zealand brought charges against Jianxi Chen, captain of the Panama-flagged bulk carrier Spinnaker SW, on Friday, March 29.

Mr Chen was charged with permitting dangerous activity involving ships or maritime products under section 65(2) of the Maritime Transport Act of 1994.

Mr Chen permitted the crew to load a cargo of logs onto Spinnaker SW without the use of personal protective equipment or systems to prevent falls from height, which caused unnecessary danger or risk to persons working on board the ship.

The captain pleaded guilty to the offence and was sentenced in the District Court at Timaru. He received a fine of NZ$6,000 (US$4,069).

The summary of facts stated that Maritime NZ detained the vessel on March 25, 2019, at Bluff. The crew were found to have been working at height without any fall protection in place.

A maritime officer became aware of potential safety issues on board the ship whilst it was loading logs.

The maritime officer inspected the vessel’s safety management system (SMS) and personal protective equipment (PPE). The SMS required crew working at height to wear PPE.

The PPE itself was in poor condition.

As a result, the maritime officer imposed conditions on the vessel requiring operations to be conducted in accordance with the SMS. This direction was breached by the captain, and crew aboard the vessel continued to work at height without PPE.

On March 27, a Port State Control officer inspected the vessel and found deficiencies in their practices.

The ship was further detained under the Maritime Transport Act section 55.

The ship captain and other witnesses were interviewed by a maritime officer as part of the investigation into alleged ongoing safety breaches.

Maritime NZ undertook a full Port State Control inspection of Spinnaker SW as a result of initial investigations.

On Saturday, March 30, the ship passed the independent International Safety Management (ISM) audit and the Port State Control officer released the vessel.

The vessel has been cleared to leave port now that the court case has finished.

Information about the detention has been shared with other Asia-Pacific countries’ maritime authorities as part of the regional and international Port State Control (PSC) system that operates in the region under an agreement known as the Tokyo MOU.

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