Alcohol involved in Zambucca stranding incident

Thursday January 11, 2018 Written by Published in Local
Diggers begin the diffi cult and delicate task of lifting the Zambucca free of the reef at Muri yesterday morning. PHOTO: Lawrance Bailey. 18011026 Diggers begin the diffi cult and delicate task of lifting the Zambucca free of the reef at Muri yesterday morning. PHOTO: Lawrance Bailey. 18011026

Police have confirmed alcohol was a factor in the incident which led to the stranding of the Ocean Fresh Limited longline fishing vessel Zambucca on the reef at Muri on Friday night.

 

The vessel was freed from the reef yesterday morning after a number of attempts from Saturday.

Police involved in the rescue mission said they had tested the crew members for alcohol and police spokesperson Trevor Pitt, revealed alcohol had been a factor in the incident.

He said police had a concern for accountability and had treated the incident “with seriousness”. Pitt advised CINews to contact the Ministry of Transport for clarification of legal issues regarding the incident.

It is understood police will decide on their next step of action after an investigation from the Transport ministry.

However, director of Maritime Stephen Simpson said yesterday nothing official on alcohol being involved in the incident had come to the department.

He said staff had not started their investigation into the stranding yet.

“The main purpose of any maritime investigation is based on three points. The object is to find out what happened, why it happened and to try and put forward recommendations to stop it from happening again,” Simpson said.

He said under the maritime casualty investigation code, there was “no focus on blame”.

Simpson said Transport ministry secretary Ned Howard, who is currently out of the country, had the authority to request a preliminary investigation into the matter.

“If it was found that alcohol was involved, then we may forward a recommendation to put a limit on the alcohol on board, but then it’s too early to say anything.     

“At the moment everything, as far as we know, is based on rumours.”

The 60-foot vessel was pulled off the reef around 10am yesterday with the help of the Layar Mas 291 heavy load carrier, a source who asked not to be named said.

Three diggers were also involved in the rescue operation.

“The carrier got into position, and when Bill Doherty (Ocean Fresh managing director) gave them the command, they took up the weight and away they went,” the source said.

The rescue effort also received assistance from the Ports Authority tug Toa, which took over from the Layar Mas 291 once Zambucca was free, and escorted the longliner back to Avatiu harbour just before 1pm.

Doherty declined to comment, saying only that he was “p***** off”.

-CL/RK

Leave a comment