New Zealand's largest public ferry operator is being prosecuted again after one of its ferries crashed into a wharf, seriously injuring a woman.
But the remarkable aspect of the latest court proceeding for the Fullers Group is it once again involves the same seemingly troublesome ferry - the Kea.
The 105 tonne catamaran has seen its fair share of accidents during the past 20 years, the Herald discovered while researching Maritime New Zealand incident reports, court documents and its own archives.
It has operated for more than 30 years, making thousands of voyages across the Waitematā Harbour, and makes about 10,000 berthings with about 1.8 million passengers per year.
Some of the Kea's incidents, however, are eerily similar and have injured passengers and crew.
One included a person who jumped overboard.
Details of the latest accident, reported today by the Herald, involved a teacher being thrown from the top of a stairwell on the Kea as it crashed into Devonport's Victoria Wharf in 2017.
She hit her head on the deck and was diagnosed with head trauma, brain bleeding, a fractured rib, and has been unable to return to work.
Maritime NZ prosecuted Fullers over the incident and the company has pleaded guilty to one charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
The maximum penalty for the offence of failing to comply with a duty that exposed an individual to risk of death or serious injury is a $1.5 million fine.
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It was the second time the ferry's woes have led to Fullers being taken to court.
In February 2015, the Kea, with 61 passengers, sailed from downtown Auckland to Devonport on what was supposed to be a routine 10.30am voyage.
However, the vessel master lost control of the Kea as it approached Victoria Wharf at about 7 knots.
It collided with the pier with no warning given for the passengers to brace, several of whom were injured.
The bench seating on the Kea's main deck was unsecured and toppled over, exacerbating the impact.
As a result Fullers was ordered to pay $92,500 to its victims and fined $40,000 by the Auckland District Court in May 2017.
The case also revealed several issues with the Kea.
In late 2014, Fullers upgraded the boat's control system to a digital version, known as the follow-up mode.
However, between October 2014 and the 2015 crash there were at least nine recorded faults with the system, preventing an alignment with all the control stations on the ferry, court documents read.
On at least 15 days between October 29, 2014 and the 2015 crash, the Kea was also out of service or at a reduced service due to the broken system.
In November 2014, Fullers consulted with Maritime NZ about the issues on the ferry and it was decided the vessel would be operated without the follow-up mode.
After the meeting, one of Kea's masters requested they sail the vessel from the central wheelhouse, because it provided access to the ferry's radar, GPS and engine gauges - which the wing stations did not.
A "large visual blind spot" caused by the Kea's funnel further caused navigating issues from the wing stations, the master said.
Those operating the Kea were then permitted to move between and manually operate the vessel from both the central and wing stations provided there was enough open sea.
Additional watch crew were also assigned and only experienced masters were allowed to operate the troubled ferry.
In 2015 Fullers was also twice warned by Maritime NZ about concerns with its equipment, court documents show.
Other incidents include when the Kea clipped fellow ferry, the Harbour Cat, while it was berthed at the downtown ferry terminal in October 2011.
One person was treated for minor injuries from the accident.
Passengers onboard described an almighty bang when the ferry crashed, which punched a hole in both boats.
The Kea had broken down earlier in the day, but had been cleared to go back into service.
In an incident almost foreshadowing the 2017 crash several years prior, the Kea hit the Devonport wharf.
That May 2009 collision also caused a passenger to fall down the stairs and be knocked unconscious.
Like the 2017 crash, the 2009 accident involved a trainee master operating the ferry, with the cause determined to be an incorrect approach.
Court documents also describe how passengers will move to the exits as the Kea nears the final moments of its voyage.
Despite warning signs to remain seated during berthing and departures it is commonplace for passengers on the Kea to stand up start lining up to disembark.
Fullers is aware of this, court documents read.
At the time of the 2017 accident, however, no safety announcements or verbal directions were given by the crew, advising passengers to remain seated during berthing.
Audio announcements had previously been implemented on the Kea but were discontinued due to complaints from passengers.
In 2007, the Kea's passengers were again involved in a rough trip and were hurled to the deck after it developed a steering fault and crashed into the Auckland docks.
Some children who had been sitting at the front of the ferry fell over, while other passengers were treated at the scene for minor injuries.
The accident was attributed by Fullers to a faulty steering system.
The Kea, however, did not suffer any damage and was soon back in service following an investigation by Maritime NZ.
While carrying 38 passengers from Devonport during an early morning run in March 2006 the Kea ran into trouble.
This time it collided with another ferry.
The crash caused a metre-long hole above the water line in the hull of the Starflyte.
There were no injuries and nobody was onboard the second Fullers ferry, which was moored at the main Auckland terminal having an annual maintenance survey.
A fault in a battery charger providing steering power to the Kea was blamed for the incident.
At the time the Kea had only just returned to service from a fortnight out of action because of damage to its drive shaft when a foreign object was sucked into a propeller.
In May 2004 the ferry was sailing from Devonport with 47 passengers and crew when the skipper was alerted to someone overboard.
The passenger had apparently jumped after saying "I'm not feeling well", a Maritime NZ incident report reads.
The person was sighted about 300-400m away from the Kea and thrown a lifebuoy before being brought back on board.
Once ashore he was handed over to the police.
And in 2001, dozens of people were on board when the Kea's master lost control while approaching Queen's Wharf.
It hit another Fullers ferry, which then shunted it into a third vessel.
Witnesses described the Kea veering to the side before it thumped into the Manu ferry, which bumped into the Kestrel, a then 94-year-old vessel in the Fullers fleet.
No one was hurt in the incident, but the Manu was left with some damage to its beam.
The crash occurred after a generator failed on the Kea, Fullers said.
While the cause of the 2017 crash officially remains "unconfirmed" the Devonport wharf is considered by ferry masters to be more difficult to berth due to its exposure to tidal influences.
A sudden gust of wind would be enough to push the Kea off course, court documents read.
An accident report by Fullers for the 2017 crash said the accident was a result of both systems and tidal influences.
The key learnings in the report found insufficient training on the berthing of Kea was a risk not only to the business but to those who travel onboard the vessel.
After the 2015 crash the Kea masters were retrained and Fullers also increased its budget for skills and training.
It came after internal memos to staff during late November 2014, by Fuller's health and safety manager, said the faults of the Kea were still "resulting in a number of potentially serious control failure incidents".
Fullers CEO Mike Horne said safety was the company's "top priority, and a core value across our operation".
"We are unwavering in our commitment to crew and customer wellbeing and adhere to stringent safety procedures as regulated by Maritime New Zealand," he said in a statement to the Herald.
Fullers planned to invest $1.2 million in vessel training and $350,000 in crew training this year alone, after committing in 2018 to investing more heavily in training and to "raise the bar in operational safety", he said.
"Kea has been serving the Devonport community for 31 years, moving to and from the city through an increasingly crowded waterspace," he said.
"While we firmly believe that even one incident is one too many, Kea has had only a small number of unrelated incidents across hundreds of thousands of runs.
"An incident like this is distressing for all involved and we are working hard to do all we can to ensure it doesn't happen again."
Horne earlier said the company has fully co-operated with Maritime NZ throughout the court proceedings.
The Kea: A cursed catamaran?
• 2001: The ferry veered and crashed into another Fullers ferry, which was tied to the dock, and bumped into a third ferry.
• 2004: While sailing from Devonport a passenger jumped overboard.
• 2006: The Kea gouged a metre-long hole in the hull of another Fullers ferry. There were no injuries.
• 2007: The Kea's passengers were thrown to the deck after the vessel developed a steering fault and crashed into a pier. Some passengers were treated for minor injuries.
• 2009: Crashed into the Devonport wharf, injuring a passenger who fell down the stairs and was knocked unconscious.
• 2011: The Kea collided with another berthed ferry. One person was treated for minor injuries.
• 2015: Major crash into Devonport wharf, injuring several passengers and crew. Maritime NZ prosecutes Fullers over the incident, with the company later ordered to pay nearly $100,000 to the victims and fined $40,000.
• 2017: Crashes into Devonport wharf again, a woman falls down the stairs and suffers head injuries. Maritime NZ again prosecutes Fullers, which is due to be sentenced in October.