Ferry sailed with 3.5m gash in side

Last updated 16:52 10/03/2014

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The captain of a Cook Strait ferry carried passengers to Picton and back to Wellington with a 3.5 metre gash in the side after a collision with another ship during a stormy berthing.

John Henderson, 67, a master of ship who lives in Invercargill, has pleaded not guilty to being the holder of a maritime document, a certificate of competency, and, being in charge of the Santa Regina, doing an act that caused unnecessary danger to the crew or passengers between April 25 and April 28, 2011.

Crown prosecutor Ian Murray told a Wellington District Court jury the Santa Regina was sailed from Picton to Wellington on April 26, 2011 in high winds and rain.

Henderson was the master of the ship, employed by Strait Shipping.

During an attempt to berth at Glasgow wharf the Santa Regina was blown sideways and collided with another ship, the Southern Prospector, and the wharf.

Mr Murray said two holes were torn in the hull, a minor one of about 12cm which was repaired and a 3.5m gash was breached the hull and was not noticed during a torchlight inspection.

The Santa Regina was then sailed back to Picton and returned to Wellington with the gash in place which was not seen until a member of the Wellington Harbourmasters team spotted it.

Mr Murray said during the sailings there was storm warning in place for Cook Strait.

He told the jury the problem was the inadequate inspection of the ship after the collision which led to two more sailings putting the crew and passengers at unnecessary risk.

Henderson's lawyer Michael Reed, QC, told the jury the size of the gash was disputed and the defence said it was 1.85m and was cosmetic rather than structural.

He said no water entered the hole during either crossing and at no time was there any risk of the ship sinking or the passengers or crew risk.

Mr Reed said Henderson was a very experienced captain who would never have sailed if he thought there had been any risk.

The trial is expected to take the rest of the week.

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- The Dominion Post

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