This newsletter is prepared every three months and features news, views and interviews related to the nautical activity in New Zealand. If you have suggestions for content or story ideas, please email them to us, and we will develop the items into newsletter topics. Meantime we hope you enjoy reading this. Check back every two months for the updated version. Previous newsletters are also held on this website under the Archive Newsletters heading.

Latest Newsletter:  May to August 2017


Maritime NZ teamed with the Maritime Police to conduct health and safety inspections of the high-risk mussel barge sector in the Coromandel and Firth of Thames recently.


A mussel harvester crew at work in the Coromandel.

The patrol boarded 15 of the 18 mussel barges that operate in the area over three days, as crews were at work – many of them conducting mussel seeding or harvesting activities. Eight vessels were issued with Improvement Notices under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA), for issues such as inadequate machine guarding and lack of facilities for crew.

Four vessels also had Conditions imposed under the Maritime Transport Act 1994 for issues such as uncertified deck cranes and hydraulic oil leaks from deck machinery.

Maritime NZ Central Regional Compliance Manager, Pelin Davison, said being able to inspect these vessels while at sea enabled Maritime Officers to check actual working conditions for crews.

“We were also able to remind skippers and crews about what is expected under HSWA – including the tougher penalties and new health and safety responsibilities for workers, as well as officers and PCBUs (Persons Conducting a Business or Undertaking),” he said. “Education is a large part of the work we do – along with compliance action where needed. Crews seemed happy to have the opportunity to discuss working conditions and how they can be improved.”

The patrol was conducted with the assistance of the New Zealand Police Maritime Unit from Auckland, on-board the Deodar III, with local harbourmasters also taking part. Recreational boaties were also spoken to – with checks done for the number of lifejackets on board, along with communication devices such as VHF radio, flares, rescue beacons and cellphones in waterproof bags.

Source – Maritime New Zealand.


By Murad Sezer, Reuters


The Liman went down after the collision tore a hole in the hull below the waterline.

A Russian naval intelligence ship has sunk after colliding with a merchant freighter in the Black Sea near Istanbul, the Turkish coast guard said. All 78 crew members on the Russian vessel were rescued.

The crew of the freighter, a Togo-flagged ship travelling from Romania to Jordan and carrying 8800 sheep, was unharmed and the ship suffered slight damage to its bow, according to local media reports.

In Moscow, Russia’s Defence Ministry issued a statement confirming that the vessel, the Liman, went down after the collision tore a hole in the hull below the waterline. Russian officials did not immediately provide any information about the Liman’s mission.

The Russian state-run Sputnik news agency reported in 2016 that the Liman had been deployed in the Black Sea to monitor the joint Sea Breeze naval exercises between Ukraine and several NATO countries, including the United States. Russian officials had complained that the joint exercises were provocative.

Turkey’s prime minister, Binali Yildirim, called Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to express “sadness,” Turkey’s semi official Anadolu news agency reported.

Russia and Turkey have developed increasingly warm ties over the last year, putting aside bitter differences over the war in Syria to cooperate on brokering a political solution to the conflict. The relationship reached a low point in 2015, when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane that Ankara said had strayed over the Syrian border.

The collision occurred about 30km northwest of the Bosporus Strait, one of the world’s busiest waterways connecting the Black Sea to the shipping lanes leading to the Mediterranean.

The Liman had also previously been deployed for three months to the coast of Syria in the Mediterranean Sea, where Russia is in the second year of an intervention to back President Bashar al-Assad against a wide array of rebel groups, including Islamist fighters and others with US backing. Ship spotters in the Bosporus photographed the ship traversing the strait near Istanbul under heavy snow in January. It is not clear whether the ship was headed toward Syria.

The Liman was built as a hydrographic survey vessel in the Gdansk shipyards in Poland in 1970 and later converted for military service in 1989, shortly before the fall of the Soviet Union. The ship is outfitted to capture signals intelligence, largely communications, using an array of Soviet and Russian-made sensors that have been retrofitted onto the ship.

Source – The Washington Post



The DL Marigold became the first international vessel to be ordered to leave a New Zealand port for biofouling reasons

A dirty vessel ordered to leave Tauranga in March has been allowed to return after being cleaned outside New Zealand, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

MPI ordered the DL Marigold to leave New Zealand within 24 hours after its arrival on 4 March. The order followed the discovery of dense fouling of barnacles and tube worms on the bulk carrier’s hull and other underwater surfaces by MPI divers.

“The longer the vessel stayed in New Zealand, the greater chance there was for unwanted marine species to spawn or break away from the ship, so we had to act quickly,” said Steve Gilbert, MPI’s border clearance director. “The vessel won’t be allowed back until it can provide proof it has been thoroughly cleaned.”

Mr Gilbert said it was the first time MPI had ordered an international vessel to leave a New Zealand port for biofouling reasons.  “We were dealing with severe contamination in this case.”

The DL Marigold arrived in Tauranga from Indonesia and had been due to stay in New Zealand waters for nine days. On being ordered to leave, the vessel was first sailed to Fiji. However, Fiji’s biosecurity authority also refused entry to the ship, citing similar biosecurity concerns. It is understood a team of divers from New Zealand were then contracted to clean the vessel’s hull in international waters off Fiji.

“Offshore locations are not ideal,” said Dr Rob Hilliard, biofouling consultant and principal at Intermarine Consulting. “Presumably it was considered the best option in this case by DL Marigold’s operators given its cargo constraints and distance to alternative ports where the fouling poses a lower, acceptable biosecurity threat.”

Dr Hilliard said high-seas hull cleaning for biosecurity purposes is costly and prone to delays. “Mobilising and progress can be slowed by a range of logistics, safety and efficiency issues, such as securing a fit-for-purpose diving platform for remote deep-sea operations, and managing operations beside a ship that’s not anchored.”

The vessel returned to Tauranga on 28 March to finish unloading a shipment of palm kernel.

“We checked photos taken after the cleaning operation. These were provided to MPI prior to the vessel’s arrival. We are now satisfied the ship is very clean and meets New Zealand’s biosecurity requirements,” said Sharon Tohovaka, MPI’s border clearance services capability manager.

“The move to ban the vessel until it could be cleaned shows New Zealand’s strict biosecurity system in action. MPI won’t hesitate to take a hard line on vessels with severe biofouling in the lead-up to the introduction of new biosecurity rules in May 2018.”

The new rules will require all international vessels to arrive in New Zealand with a clean hull. During the interim period, MPI can take action in cases of severe biofouling. “Most vessels can achieve this requirement by following International Maritime Organisation biofouling guidelines,” Ms Tohovaka said.

Source – Courtesy of FTD Magazine, May issue


By Chris Dann and Jennifer Mills

Significant law changes which have their roots in disasters over five years ago are finally before Parliament.

The Maritime Transport Amendment Bill is designed to plug perceived gaps in our laws following the Carterton hot-air balloon crash in 2012, the foundering of the Rena on Astrolabe Reef in 2011 and (arguably) the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. Changes include drug and alcohol management plans and testing, a leap in available oil pollution compensation, and reduced ability to claim liability limitation for maritime claims.

The NZ Government flagged changes to the commercial aviation and maritime sectors in February 2016 following feedback received by the Ministry of Transport on the ‘Clear Heads’ policy initiative designed to reduce the risks of alcohol and drug-related impairment in aviation, maritime and rail. ‘Clear Heads’ was a response to the October 2013 Transport Accident Investigation Commission report on the Carterton hot-air balloon accident in 2012 in which 11 people lost their lives. The bill requires commercial (but not recreational) maritime operators to develop a drug and alcohol management plan (DAMP) which must, among other things:

  • • Provide for random testing for ‘safety-sensitive workers’ – defined widely to include anyone (including contractors and volunteers) doing any activity that could significantly affect the health or safety of any person onboard a ship
  • • Specify the drugs to be tested and procedures and other matters relating to the testing (including any permissible levels of alcohol or a testable drug) – the NZ government decided against specifying a maximum limit because “legislating a limit would add complexities without achieving better results” (a slightly curious decision given Part 4A of the Maritime Transport Act already prescribes maximum alcohol limits for ‘seafarers’)
  • • Include a response plan (when the test result is not negative)
  • • Be submitted to and approved by Maritime New Zealand (in addition to the drug and alcohol policy which maritime transport operators subject to Part 19 of the Maritime Rules are already required to include in their approved maritime transport operator plan).

Operators must ensure that random testing of safety-sensitive workers is carried out, provided that the worker consents to being tested. In addition, the director of Maritime New Zealand will have the mandate to undertake random testing with the worker’s consent. Where the worker does not consent to being tested, or the test result is not negative, the operator must prohibit the worker from performing safety-sensitive activities until he/she is able to safely do so.

Importantly, operators will also need to comply with their obligations as an employer under the Employment Relations Act and as a ‘person conducting a business or undertaking’ under the Health and Safety at Work Act. In particular, the DAMP content and implementation will need to be fair and reasonable. For example, operators would need to ensure that there is scientific validity to test results, and must deal sensitively with personal information.

The bill itself states that an operator may include a provision in individual or collective employment agreements that allows the operator to carry out random testing of the worker in accordance with the DAMP. So, operators have a bit to chew on, and more detail is yet to come in the form of new Maritime Rules (including prescribed safety-sensitive activities and DAMP content). Helpfully, an 18-month transition period will apply before implementation.

As well as getting your DAMP right, we recommend commercial maritime operators review employment and contractor agreements of relevant staff to ensure the new rules are properly addressed.

The Maritime Transport Amendment Bill significantly increases the pool of compensation available to meet claims for oil pollution prevention, damage and clean-up in the event of a major oil tanker spill in New Zealand waters by accession to the 2003 protocol to the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Oil Pollution Damage (the ‘Supplementary Fund Protocol’).

The Supplementary Fund Protocol increases the maximum level of compensation available to New Zealand (along with all other member countries) from the current $377 million to approximately $1.4 billion.

All members are required to contribute to the fund (a kind of global insurance scheme for pollution damage) through levies on oil imported by sea raised in proportion to the amount of oil that country imports. New Zealand’s share sits at around 0.5% (half of that amount if the spill is from a tanker insured by a member of the international group of P&I insurers which represent about 90% of the world’s oil tanker tonnage). Levies are only collected when access to the fund is required by another member country – i.e. in the event of a major oil spill in the waters of a member country.

While there has never been a claim on the supplementary fund since it entered into force in 2005, officials estimate that it would take a spill of only 10–20 kilotons (kt) affecting sensitive areas of New Zealand’s coast to cause the current $377 million compensation pool to be exceeded. Oil tankers operating around New Zealand carry between 55 and 100 kt of oil as cargo plus bunker fuel.

We are late coming to the party, but it is definitely a party we want to join!

The Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (to which New Zealand is a party and which is implemented via Part VII of the Maritime Transport Act) provides an international system for ship owners to limit financial liability for maritime incidents in order to encourage international shipping and trade.

The 1996 protocol to the convention increased the liability limits and allowed each contracting state to exclude claims for wreck removal costs, cargo removal costs, or damage from hazardous and noxious cargo substances from liability limitation.

It took the grounding of the Rena and the significant impact of the clean-up on the public purse (because the guilty parties were able to limit their liability for that clean-up) to illustrate the need for New Zealand to accede to the protocol. The Maritime Transport Amendment Bill finally achieves that, providing more scope for cost recovery by public authorities, businesses and the community in the event of another major maritime incident.

The limitation carve-outs are broad, applying to all claims of the type excluded from any person. The Maritime Law Association of Australia and New Zealand recommended in its submission to the select committee considering the bill that exclusions for wreck removal and cargo removal apply only to claims by public authorities exercising statutory powers (consistent with the common law position and the position taken in other jurisdictions, like the United Kingdom).

We will follow the passage of the bill and the development of the associated Maritime Rules for drug and alcohol plans and testing with interest. We also await similar-promised amendments to the Civil Aviation Act.

Our employment team are well versed in preparing and implementing drug and alcohol policies and plans, and can assist commercial maritime operators to prepare for the new rules (including dovetailing with existing policies in maritime transport operator plans).

dann and Jenner

Chris Dann (left) heads the national transport and logistics team for the Anthony Harper commercial law firm, and Jennifer Mills heads the firm’s employment and health and safety practice

Source – Courtesy of FTD Magazine, May issue


By Abdiqani Hassan

Pirates have hijacked an Indian commercial vessel off the coast of Somalia, the second attack in weeks after years without such seizures, industry and security sources said.

United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) which co-ordinates shipping in the Gulf of Aden area, said it had received information that a dhow had been hijacked “in the vicinity of Socorta Island.”

It named the vessel as Al Kausar and said it had been en route from Dubai to the port of Bosasso in northern Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region. The EU naval force which patrols off Somalia’s coast as part of an international anti-piracy operation said that the dhow had been spotted further south, off the Somali port of Hobyo.

“An EU Naval Force maritime patrol aircraft has confirmed the exact location of the dhow and has attempted to establish radio communications but without success,” it said in a statement on its website. “Investigationsd and  operations are ongoing.”

Somali pirates hijacked an oil tanker last month, the first such seizure of a vessel sice 2012, but released it aftera clash with the marine force in Puntland.

Muse Osman Yusuf, district commissioner in the Puntland port of Eyl, said authorities were ready to confront whoever had seized the Indian dhow. “We shall not allow it. Puntland maritime police forces have a base here and we shall fight the pirates in case they come,” he told Reuters.

An Indian government official said the 11 crew were all Indian and that officials were in touch with the Somali government. ” This confirms that the pirates still have the ability to go to sea, and take vessels, and the international shipping industry needs to take additional precautions,” John Steed of the aid group Oceans Beyond Piracy told Reuters.

In 2011, pirates launched 237 attacks off the coast of Somalia, according to the International Maritime Bureau, and took hundreds of hostages. Shipping companies responded with security measures such as armed guards, blocking easy entry points to vessels with barbed wire and installing panic rooms.

In a separate incident, UKMTO said on its website that six skiffs had approached a vessel in the southern Red Sea and that ladders and hooks were sighted. Armed guards on board the vessel took up positions and the skiffs departed, leaving the vessel unharmed, UKTMO said.

Somalis have been angered by a recent influx of foreign fishermen into their waters, some of whom have been given licences to operate there by the Somali government.

Source – Reuters


By Susan Edmunds

The Overseas Investment Office has approved the sale of James Barker businesses to an Australian private equity firm, and Wellington’s Bluebridge ferry service is among a parcel of business interests approved for sale to Australian firms last month.

The Overseas Investment Office (OIO) has released details of three transactions it approved last month.

Apollo Bidco, a New Zealand firm owned by Australian private equity fund manager Champ IV Management, bought six companies from the James Barker Shipping Trust and James Barker Family Trust. The amount of the sale is withheld but it was more than $100 million. The sale was announced in December but required the green light from the OIO.

As well as Bluebridge, Apollo Bidco picked up Freight Lines and Eagle Holdings, and other James Barker businesses. Mr Barker died last year.

Another Australian buyer, Pacific Equity Partners, which owns Patties Group, a supplier of frozen savouries and pies bought Food partners, which produces Leader Products. The company is a major supplier to Subway in Australasia and Asia.

Meanwhile, Zhejian Rifa Holding Group, based in China was granted approval to buy up to 100 per cent of the issued share capital in Airwork Holdings. It wants to operate Airwork as part of its broader general aviation business.

Source – Stuff NZ


queen mary

In her heyday Queen Mary carried Elizabeth Taylor and Winston Churchill. But it’ll take more than $400 million to fix her up.

The Queen Mary is so corroded that it’s at urgent risk of flooding or collapse and the price tag for fixing up the 1930s ocean liner could near US$300 million (NZ$426,000), according to a survey.

Documents obtained by the Long Beach Press-Telegram state it would likely take five years to ‘rehab’ the ship, a tourist destination docked permanently in Long Beach Harbor south of Los Angeles.

During its heyday, the Queen Mary carried Hollywood celebrities, such as Bob Hope and Elizabeth Taylor, royalty, such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and dignitaries, such as Winston Churchill. It also spent several years ferrying 765,000 Allied troops during World War II, when it was nicknamed the Gray Ghost.

But now, naval architects and marine engineers who compiled the survey warn that the vessel is probably “approaching the point of no return.” The hull is severely rusted and certain areas, including the engine room, could be prone to flooding.  And because the bilge system is inoperable, large amounts of water can’t be pumped out and could cause the ship to sink to the lagoon floor.

In addition, the pillar supports for a raised floor in an exhibition space are corroded throughout and could face “immediate collapse” under the weight of just a few people, the survey said. Roughly 75 per cent of the repairs were deemed “urgent.”

queen mary long shot

The Queen Mary made Long Beach its permanent home in 1967. Now a floating hotel with shops, restaurants and event spaces, the ship attracts some 1.3 million visitors annually.

City officials said the findings are being discussed with the ship’s current leaseholder, Urban Commons, and both sides are committed to preserving the historic asset and making sure it can safely remain open to the public. In November, Long Beach approved $23 million to address the ship’s most urgent repairs, and Urban Commons is working to secure additional funding.

“We have a timeline in which the engineers believe they can complete those immediate projects,” said John Keisler, economic and property development director. “These are major challenges we can only address over time; it can’t all be done at once.”

The condition has become so dire that politicians in Scotland, where the Queen Mary was built, have called for an international fundraising campaign to restore the former Cunard liner. They’ve urged Prime Minister Theresa May to put pressure on the US government to step in and save their architectural treasure, according to a recent report in Scotland’s national newspaper.

Source – AP



Construction of the 1.7 kilometre-long tunnel is expected to being in 2018. Pictured is an artist’s impression of what the entrance to the tunnel will look like.

The world’s first ship tunnel is set to be excavated beneath a Norwegian mountain.

Measuring an expected 1.7 kilometres, the Stad tunnel will allow sailors to bypass a notorious section of the Stadhavet Sea – which has claimed 33 lives in the past 70 years and experiences 100 storm days each year, according to reports.

But the tunnel will not provide a faster route than the current option, just a safer one.

Construction on the tunnel – which will allow large vessels to pass through – is expected to begin in 2018 and cost NZ $460 million.

Dimensions for the tunnel vary according to reports, but a diagram provided by the Norwegian Coastal Administration, the group responsible for the project, say it will be 37 metres tall, 36m wide and have a water depth of 12m.


A map shows the location of the Stad tunnel and the present, much longer route.

Excavating the tunnel will require the removal of about 3m cubic metres of rock, according to gCaptain.

Construction is to be carried out with standard blasting and drilling methods and is estimated to be completed in 2029, but could take longer. An overhead bridge for tourists in the tunnel has also been proposed, according to gCaptain.

The proposed tunnel will be 37 metres tall, 36m wide and 1.7 kilometres long, with a water depth of 12m. As well as providing a safer route for ships, the tunnel is expected to boost shipping, fishing and tourism industries.

Politician Bjørn Lødemel said the tunnel would lay the foundation for industrial and regional development and create a world-class tourist destination, as well as shift transport from road to sea, Norwegian news outlet NRK reported The tunnel’s construction had support from all the country’s major political parties, it was reported.


An artist’s impression of how one of the entry points for the Stad tunnel would look.

The project is expected to have a positive effect on shipping, fishing and tourism industries, among others.

Phots: all Norwegian Coastal Administration.

Source- Stuff NZ.


The NZMS nautical website attracted 47,356 hits last month, and has averaged more than 50,000 hits each month so far this year. It is encouraging to know that members are using the website, and keeping in touch with industry activities, and their former student colleagues.

The support shown by students and graduates from the NZMS courses give us a lot of confidence in building the Alumni, and we are delighted with the positive feedback we have received.  We are still pushing ahead to build membership too, so please keep telling your friends and colleagues about the NZMS Alumni website, and encourage them to join up.