11 Mar 2014

Experts give evidence at Bluebridge trial

9:15 pm on 11 March 2014

Marine experts have given evidence at the trial of a Bluebridge ferry captain in the Wellington District Court.

Bluebridge ferry captain John Henderson.

Bluebridge ferry captain John Henderson. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

John Henderson, 67, was charged after the Santa Regina made two crossings of Cook Strait with a hole in its hull in April 2011.

Lawyers for the Crown say in allowing those sailings to take place, Captain Henderson caused unnecessary danger to passengers.

While berthing in bad weather in April 2011 the ferry was blown sideways and hit another vessel. That left two holes in the ferry's hull, one of which the Crown says was 3.5 metres long.

Maritime New Zealand's Richard Lough told the court on Tuesday he stopped the ferry sailing until the large hole was repaired because as a safety inspector he had a duty to ensure safe passage for those on board.

However, Mr Lough said the pumping systems on the ferry would have coped with the amount of water that could have entered the ship through the hole.

Graham Angus, who works for the Lloyds shipping register, told the court he had no concern that the Santa Regina would fall apart.

Wayne Kawe, a bosun on the ferry, told the court the collision between the vessels felt like a push, rather than a big hit and wasn't concerned that the Santa Regina might sink.

Mr Kawe said Captain Henderson was good to work with, looked after his crew and wouldn't take unnecessary risks.