A ship's captain has been fined after admitting he failed to inform authorities his vessel went aground off New Plymouth in what was potentially a Rena-type disaster.
Rolando Legaspi, a 63-year-old Filipino national, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to failing to notify the Maritime Safety Authority of the grounding of the Lake Triview on a reef off Waiwhakaiho north of Port Taranaki on May 24.
Legaspi was excused from attending today's sentencing in the New Plymouth District Court.
Maritime New Zealand prosecutor Shane Elliott, Auckland, said the incident, in rough seas, was viewed as serious.
Water was leaking into the hull but the captain had failed to notify Maritime New Zealand as he was required to do under the Maritime Safety Act.
Notifiying of any such incident was of paramount importance because it then enabled authorities to respond quickly and appropriately to any risk such as occurred with the Rena.
For Legaspi, lawyer Andrew Laurenson said the captain had filed an application to plead guilty on Tuesday along with his non-attendance today.
Elliott said the MSA accepted the captain made an effort to contact the ship's agent but even then had downplayed the incident and the results of the grounding .
He acknowledged the captain's early guilty plea and co-operation when interviewed.
Community Magistrate Robyn Paterson, who commented she came from Tauranga the site of the Rena disaster and knew how very real the effects were when something did go wrong.
There were 21 crew on board whose lives were put in danger.
The magistrate took into account the early guilty plea and co-operation when interviewed.
The captain was sentenced to a $2000 fine and $130 court fees.
The maximum fine for an individual is $5000.
The Singaporean-flagged cargo vessel, which is 20,236grt and 177 metres long was carrying soya meal to be offloaded at Port Taranaki.
- Taranaki Daily News
Testing drugs on animals is:Related story: Animal tests 'key' to brain disease cures