Lessons from the Rena disaster clearly haven’t been learnt, as new evidence emerges of deliberate attempts by shipping company Maersk to interfere with the navigation systems of two ships arriving into Auckland during the current Ports dispute.
Maritime workers tracking coastal shipping movements noticed that the Irenes Remedy and Maersk Aberdeen have in recent days both turned off their Automatic Identification System (AIS) as they approached New Zealand.
The two ships coming into Auckland came in without their navigational equipment turned on, despite it being in good working order, the Maritime Union said today.
If deliberate, this was deeply concerning and showed a complete disregard for the safe passage of the ships and their workforce, MUNZ General Secretary Joe Fleetwood said.
Joe Fleetwood said the experienced maritime workers who noticed the anomaly believe the vessels were trying to be “silent” to prevent their movement being tracked during the current industrial dispute.
Mr Fleetwood said he had asked the Maersk Aberdeen captain in Wellington if he had been turning AIS off on New Zealand’s coast, and wasn’t satisfied with the response. The AIS tracking device was of high concern, and he had wanted to go aboard the vessel immediately on arrival, not two hours later as had occurred, Fleetwood said.
“We will be asking shipping authorities at Maritime New Zealand what on earth is going on,” he said.
“There is no obvious explanation for this occurring only on vessels involved in the industrial dispute in this way. We are looking forward to hearing an answer from Maritime New Zealand on this.”
Mr Fleetwood says if there was any suggestion that navigational or safety procedures were being deliberately circumvented it would be unforgivable.
“Obviously the Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga should be queried as to their awareness of this situation, and whether they have any concerns about it.
“But we also want an assurance from Maritime New Zealand that they will not tolerate this deliberate interference with a ship’s navigation systems.”
“Given the vessels are operating in the same area as the site of the Rena disaster, this is even more disturbing,” he said.
The Irenes Remedy and Maersk Aberdeen container ships have worked at the Ports of Auckland in recent days despite strike action.