Maritime NZ seeking a fine for fatal accident on cruise ship

Maritime New Zealand is seeking $800,000 in compensation for the family of Allan Navales, a Filipino seafarer who was killed when a gas cylinder burst aboard cruise ship Emerald Princess (IMO 9333151) in 2017. An accident investigation determined that the cylinder was badly corroded and failed due to wastage.

Emerald Princess was moored at Port Otago, New Zealand on February 9th last year. Navales and a crewmate were working on the backup pressure supply system for a davit for the ship’s tenders. Navales was near a bank of four high-pressure nitrogen cylinder while crewmember Bernabes Santos was refilling and testing them. Navales was killed when one of the tanks burst. A second tank was blown clear of the ship and landed on the pier. No passengers or other crewmembers were injured in the incident.

Metallurgists contracted by the New Zealand Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) found that an external area of the cylinder wall had wasted away, leaving less than 1/16th of an inch of steel at the location of the rupture. The cylinder had been subject to a routine check two weeks prior but had not been flagged, and other cylinders on board were also found to have significant wastage.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) wrote that the circumstances of the accident raised the question of whether the current inspection requirements for a competent person were adequate for a pressure vessel stored in a harsh marine environment.

Operator Princess Cruises immediately replaced all of the cylinders used in the ship’s lifeboat launch and recovery system after the accident. It inspected similar cylinders across its fleet and updated its maintenance and training programs.

In a court proceeding Tuesday, Maritime New Zealand  asserted that, ahead of the incident, Princess Cruises had not fully complied with all requirements of New Zealand’s Maritime Transport Act, creating unnecessary risk.

The agency is seeking more than $800,000 in compensation for Navales’ family, citing loss of income.

2007-built, Bermuda-flagged, 113,561 gt Emerald Princess is owned and managed by Princess Cruise Lines of Valencia, California, USA. It is entered with Steamship and UK Club.