TAIC launches investigation into Fiordland Navigator grounding

2 minutes read
Posted 25 January, 2024
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M.V Fiordland Navigator

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has launched a marine safety inquiry into an accident involving the scenic cruise vessel M.V Fiordland Navigator.

The RealNZ boat ran aground at about 6.15pm yesterday evening, 24 January, near Crooked Arm in Doubtful Sound.

It sustained a breach in its hull and took on water but was refloated later that evening, returned to its berth at Deep Cove, and is now undergoing repairs.

All fifty-seven passengers and 10 crew were safely evacuated, with no injuries reported.

The Commission’s investigators are travelling to area today and plan to be on site tomorrow and over the weekend.

"The team’s evidence collection work is broad at first to support the many routes that the investigation could follow," Acting Chief Investigator of Accidents Jim Burtenshaw says.

"As always, TAIC’s initial focus is on gathering evidence that could disappear or change – evidence from the accident site, the vessel itself and memories while they’re fresh in people’s minds.

"Over the next several days, TAIC’s investigators will secure electronic records – including photos, videos, and location data on people’s cellphones – and interview vessel operator staff, crew and witnesses.

"As usual, we are interested in the vessel’s history, performance, maintenance, equipment and design."

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission’s marine inquires are usually complete withing the target period of two years.

The Commission opens an inquiry when it believes the circumstances of an accident or incident have - or are likely to have - significant implications for transport safety, or when the inquiry may allow the Commission to make findings or recommendations to improve transport safety.

RealNZ Acting CEO Paul Norris told The Southland App a commercial diver has conducted an underwater assessment of the vessel.

"We are awaiting details of this assessment so that we, and our vessel surveyor, can determine what repairs need to be undertaken to restore the watertight integrity of the vessel," Norris says.

"The Navigator will remain out of service until both RealNZ and our surveyor are satisfied she is safe and fully compliant – this will be for at least the next few days."

Maritime NZ has also launched an investigation into the incident.

Norris says RealNZ is cooperating fully with relevant agencies to investigate the cause of the incident, alongside our own company investigation.

"We are continuing to support all involved. All evacuated guests were accommodated in Te Anau last night. They were met by RealNZ representatives to assist with ongoing arrangements, and any extra advice and support we could provide."

The crew returned to Manapouri at midday today (25 Jan), and have also been offered support by the company, as and if required.

Guests who are booked onto the Navigator’s overnight Doubtful Sound experience during the repair timeframe will be contacted to find a solution for rebooking or refunding.


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