14 Mar 2014

Captain says he didn't rush inspection

8:15 pm on 14 March 2014

A Bluebridge ferry captain has denied rushing an inspection of a vessel with two holes in its hull, due to commercial pressure to sail back across Cook Strait.

Bluebridge ferry captain John Henderson.

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

John Henderson, 67, is before the Wellington District Court charged with causing unnecessary danger to passengers while in command of the Santa Regina.

The ferry was was blown sideways and hit another vessel while berthing in bad weather in April 2011, sustaining two holes in its hull, one of which the Crown says was a 3.5 metre-long gash.

Captain Henderson told the court on Friday that he inspected the ferry and did not see a split in the hull, but saw a smaller hole.

He said an engineer came on board to repair the smaller hole and, as it was not going to require lengthy work, he decided to set sail and have the repair done on the way.

Captain Henderson said he could not explain why the larger gash was not seen when the vessel arrived in Picton, as another master was in charge at that time and he was asleep.

He denied missing the damage because he was in a hurry, and said he had done a proper inspection before the ferry left for Picton.

The trial continues next week.