Auckland Jet Boat Tours fined for unsafe sailing, records falsification

Image: – An Auckland Jet Boat Tours vessel

Auckland Jet Boat Tours has been fined a total of NZ$25,000 (US$16,466) and ordered to pay NZ$5,000 (US$3,293) in reparation after admitting illegal and unsafe maritime practices.

Company director Julian Frank O’Neil has been convicted and ordered to carry out 275 hours of community work.

Auckland District Court indicated that a fine of NZ$79,687.50 (US$52,487) would have been appropriate on one charge but reduced this to NZ$20,000 (US$13,173) due to the company’s financial position. On a second charge, the company was fined an additional NZ$5,000 (US$3,293).

Mr O’Neil was convicted and discharged on the basis of his financial position.

Maritime New Zealand Northern Regional Manager Neil Rowarth said the company had operated an uncertified jet boat and falsified its logbook, and a passenger had her collarbone broken in an accident on the boat.

The incidents occurred in December 2016 and in February 2017.

Auckland Jet Boat Tours and Mr O’Neil pleaded guilty to a total of five charges, two under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) and three under the Maritime Transport Act. They were sentenced in the Auckland District Court on May 6.

Between December 4 and 9, 2016, Auckland Jet Boat Tours jetboat Livi Lightning was used without a certificate of survey for at least 12 trips on the Waitematā Harbour, carrying paying passengers. A certificate of survey is issued after a detailed safety inspection, and all vessels must have one to operate commercially in order to provide safe assurance of the vessel’s safety.

On December 9, 2016, maritime officers detained Livi Lightning and stopped it operating until it had been inspected and a new certificate was issued.

The officers reviewed the vessel’s documents and carried out interviews. They also found the logbook to have been falsified to incorrectly state Livi Lightning had made only two training trips and two trips carrying passengers free of charge, when in fact it made numerous trips with fare-paying passengers.

Livi Lightning was subsequently inspected by a shipping surveyor and a new certificate of survey was issued on January 27, 2017.

On February 26, 2017, Livi Lightning was being used to provide tours on the harbour. As the vessel did a planned spin, a female passenger was thrown into the vessel’s side and her husband was thrown against her.

The vessel’s master was told the woman had hurt her shoulder.

The two passengers then changed places, another spin was carried out, and the husband was also thrown into the side of the vessel causing severe bruising to his shoulder. The master then operated the vessel more moderately and returned to the Viaduct Marina.

The woman with the hurt shoulder sought medical attention and an X-ray showed her collarbone had been broken.

Maritime NZ has followed up with Auckland Jet Boat Tours to ensure the company is operating its vessels safely. Livi Lightning was inspected on February 22, 2018, and again on April 22, 2018, to ensure the vessel is safe, and the vessel now meets the safety system requirements.

Baird Maritime

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