17 Apr 2012

Fishing boat captain stayed with sinking ship

2:12 pm on 17 April 2012

An inquest in Wellington has heard of chaotic scenes on board a Korean fishing vessel which sank off the South Island in August 2010 with the loss of six lives.

Christchurch Coroner Richard McElrea is conducting the inquest into the deaths of six fishermen on the Oyang 70 which sank 400 nautical miles east of the South Island. Only three bodies were found.

The boat began to list and started taking on water when attempts were made to haul on board an extremely full net of fish.

Detective Sergeant Michael Ford read from a Maritime New Zealand report which revealed the captain tried an unsuccessful manoeuvre to right the boat.

The captain later ordered the crew to abandon ship, but he chose to stay with it and was said to be crying and drinking from a bottle as the ship went down. His body has never been found.

Detective Sergeant Ford told the inquest that police are satisfied there are no suspicious circumstances or criminal liability concerning the deaths.

Crew members told police the captain seemed more interested in saving the fish than looking after the crew.

The inquest is expected to run all week.

Appalling conditions

A woman who dealt with survivors of the Oyang 70 says those brought ashore alive were in very bad shape.

The Indonesia Society provided food and warm clothing to the survivors.

Its vice-president Ani Karthikasari said the men told her of terrible conditions aboard the trawler. The survivors spoke of leaks in their rooms and cockroach infestations.

She said their diet was mainly instant noodles and expired food, there was a lack of heating and they had to use sea water for showering.