Monday 19th Feb, 2018

Kiwi pilot “justifiably” sacked after skiving and a vessel crash

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

A PILOT at New Zealand’s Gisborne Port was sacked after not piloting two vessels, one of which crashed into a building at the port while berthing.

Captain Paul Hines appealed to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA), which earlier this month rejected his appeal, saying he was “justifiably” sacked.

On 30 March 2017, Captain Hines was on duty when fishing vessel, Seamount Explorer came to berth at Gisborne. The vessel was big enough to require pilotage.

Captain Hines did not show up to pilot the vessel, so it proceeded without a pilot aboard. While it was berthing, it crashed into and damaged an ice conveyer on the wharf, sending workers fleeing over fences to avoid being hit by debris.

That day, when the port’s general manager asked Mr Hines about the incident, he said “this vessel was berthed under the supervision of a pilot”, and that this was “authorised by the Gisborne Harbourmaster”.

Captain Hines said he provided “remote pilotage” by monitoring the Seamount Explorer’s entry into port from a nearby road (the Port’s rules require a pilot to be onboard a ship unless there are issues of pilot safety – of which there were none). There was no CCTV evidence of his presence on the road at the time.

As for the approval of the Harbourmaster, he did talk to Captain Hines about the vessel, but the Harbourmaster says Captain Hines did not mention the gross tonnage or the name of the ship, and was under the impression that it was under the tonnage that required pilotage.

The investigation into the Seamount Explorer incident revealed another instance when Captain Hines neglected to do his job while on duty.

Mr Hines was rostered to be working on 26 February 2017 when the cruise ship Emerald Princess was due to depart, which it did – without a pilot in contravention of the port’s rules.

Mr Hines said he had come to an agreement with the ship’s captain during the pilotage into the port, but the member of the Employment Relations Authority was not satisfied that it existed, citing inconsistent evidence.

Even if there was an agreement, Captain Hines’ “actions induced the captain of ship to possibly make an agreement to his detriment rendering him liable to civil or criminal prosecution in the event of any incident”, ERA member TG Tetitaha wrote in the decision.

Mr Hines was subsequently dismissed for “serious misconduct” relating to the two times he failed to show up to do his job.

TG Tetitaha, in the decision, wrote that “Captain Hines was justifiably dismissed by Eastland Ports Limited”.

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