Fines totaling NZ$100,000 imposed on operator and captain for 2017 cruise ship grounding Offermann Offermann

A French cruise company and ship’s Master have been fined NZ$70,000 (US$46,242) and NZ$30,000 (US$19,818), respectively, for endangering human life and entering a prohibited zone following an incident in the remote New Zealand Subantarctic islands.

French company Compagnie du Ponant and Captain Regis Daumesnil, a French citizen, were sentenced today in the Wellington District Court. They had pleaded guilty to charges following the January 9, 2017 grounding of the cruise ship L’Austral on an uncharted rock at the Snares Islands.

Both Maritime New Zealand and the Department of Conservation (DOC) brought charges against Captain Daumesnil, with DOC also prosecuting the company.

Charges were filed against Captain Daumesnil under the Maritime Transport Act 1994 for causing unnecessary danger or risk to the people on board, and against both Captain Daumesnil and the company under the Resource Management Act 1991 for entering a 300-metre exclusion zone around the Islands.

The Summaries of Fact stated L’Austral had inadequate “passage plans” and failed to monitor the ship’s position near hazards to navigation. As a result of the grounding the vessel’s hull was punctured in three places. Rather than return to Bluff, the nearest port, Captain Daumesnil made the decision to continue on the cruise schedule to the Auckland Islands, a further 285 kilometres south.

There were 356 passengers and crew onboard.

Ponant was fined NZ$70,000 (US$46,242) and Captain Daumesnil was fined NZ$20,000 (US$13,212) on one charge each under the Resource Management Act.

Captain Daumesnil was fined NZ$5,000 (US$3,303) on each of two charges under the Maritime Transport Act.

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