19 Apr 2012

Oyang 70 rescue boat was working, inquest told

5:01 pm on 19 April 2012

A man who assessed a Korean fishing boat in 2009 has told an inquest that, as far as he was aware, the vessel's rescue boat had an operational motor then.

Thomas Battrick was giving evidence at an inquest in Wellington on Thursday into the deaths of six fishermen on board the Oyang 70 off the South Island in August 2010.

The fishing boat sank when its master insisted on hauling aboard a bulging net of fish.

Earlier witnesses at the inquest suggested that the vessel was poorly maintained and the rescue boat had no motor.

However, Mr Battrick said when he saw the ship, the rescue boat was fully inflated and its motor was in good order.

Other witnesses had also referred to blocked drainage sumps, which may have contributed to flooding on the Oyang 70.

Mr Battrick said the sumps should have been cleared regularly, but admitted that when he inspected the ship he did not ask the crew if they did so.

A man whose company provides specialist services to foreign fishing vessels denied that the boat's maintenance was sub-standard.

Earlier witnesses at the inquest suggested the boat was poorly maintained, with water pouring into lower decks through waste chutes.

But Peter Dawson told the inquest on Thursday when the Oyang 70 departed on its last voyage, everything on board was in place according to its safe-ship management plan.

Mr Dawson said since the sinking, his company has emphasised to foreign crews the importance of safety measures such as ensuring watertight valves are properly fastened.