A Wellington company which operates passenger ferries has been fined $380,000 for an incident where a vessel grounded on rocks.
An investigation revealed the company's vessels had been regularly exceeding safe speeds close to shore.
East by West Company Limited was sentenced in Wellington's District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to two charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
One morning in April 2017, the ferry, City Cat, was travelling at 17 knots, in a five-knot area close to the rocky shoreline at Karaka Bay when it grounded on a rock.
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This caused significant damage to the vessel and minor injuries to passengers, who were jolted from their seats.
During the investigation into the grounding, it was discovered East by West skippers regularly breached Maritime Rules by travelling at excessive speeds close to land.
Speeding continued for about a year after the grounding.
East by West Company Limited received fines of $280,000 for the grounding and $100,000 for travelling at excessive speeds closed to land.
The company's duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act required it to ensure so far as reasonably practicable the health and safety of workers and others who could be affected by its work – including passengers and other sea-users.
Maritime NZ central region compliance manager Michael-Paul Abbott said Maritime NZ was focused on ensuring ships were operated safely and without risks to people's health.
Both the grounding and the repeated speeding were serious matters that could have resulted in adverse outcomes.
"It was fortunate that no one was badly hurt," Abbott said.
The skipper of the City Cat pleaded guilty to a charge under section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act for operating a ship in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk to other persons in relation to the grounding.
The skipper was convicted and fined $1688 in November 2018.