Port of Napier has been guiding large vessels through Hawke's Bay waters using procedures outside maritime law for more than a decade, an investigation has found. In August last year the cargo ship IDAS Bulker departed Napier with a full cargo of logs. Initially the ship was under the control of a Port of Napier pilot, before it was handed back to the ship's master near South Pania Buoy. The pilot left the ship and headed towards another ship that was inbound to the port, but the master of the Bulker became concerned that the course he had been advised to steer would bring him too close to the second ship.

After consulting a navigational chart, he decided to alter his course to the south to increase the passing distance between the two vessels. The Napier pilot noticed this and told the master to change his course back. The master initially did so, but after re-checking the chart altered the course back to the south and passed safely clear of the inbound ship. The Transport Accident Investigation Commission investigated the incident and found the course taken by the Bulker master did not place the vessel in danger of grounding. It also discovered the procedures used by Napier pilots and the port had not followed the correct rules and legislation since changes in 2003. "No-one in Hawke's Bay Regional Council or the Port Authority and none of the pilots themselves realised that the procedures for outward pilotage were in error." No penalties were handed down by the commission.

Source : the dominion post