Work is underway to identify the controls, including the operational and risk management practices that need to be in place, to enable the ongoing safe transit of vessels through Tory Channel and Queen Charlotte Sound, said Captain Luke Grogan, the Marlborough Harbourmaster.
“A collaborative risk assessment group was convened last year which includes the ferry operators, Maritime New Zealand, Port Marlborough and the Marlborough Harbourmaster. I also commissioned external maritime risk consultants GBT International (now TC South) to undertake a review of maritime risk in Tory Channel, published as a report, Tory Channel/Kura te Au Navigation Safety Risk Assessment.”
“The use of Tory Channel as a navigational route carries a degree of maritime risk that requires improvements in the operational and risk management practices of the ferry companies, Port Marlborough and of the Marlborough Harbourmaster’s office.”
“The primary risks relate to collision and grounding events which could result in loss of life, oil spill and the foundering and salvage of a large vessel. A related risk is also the level of regional capability able to respond adequately to such an event.”
Captain Grogan said a number of work streams are underway that follow the principles and guidance contained within two documents recently endorsed by the New Zealand Port and Harbour Safety Code. They are the Key Principles for Maritime Risk Management in New Zealand Ports and Harbours and The Good Practice Guide to Pilotage Planning.
The work streams include:
- Surveys to assess perspectives and tolerance for risk;
- Establishment and implementation of agreed optimal operational best practices;
- Enhanced tide and current monitoring and modelling;
- Real time wake monitoring; and
- Enhanced remote monitoring of operational practices.
“A key objective of this work is that we collectively define spatially located operational parameters that reflect optimal practices and which can be continuously monitored across each and every ferry transit in near real time.”
“Vessels able to operate in accordance with the defined and agreed optimal operational parameters will be demonstrating the standard of navigation practice necessary to enable access to Tory Channel.”
“Vessels that are unable to operate in accordance with the agreed parameters will likely be subjected to a Harbourmaster’s Direction or navigation safety bylaw that prevents access to Tory Channel,” he said.
“The establishment of defined operational parameters will provide clarity to ferry operators as to the manner in which vessels must operate, so as to retain ongoing access to Tory Channel. The processes that will be followed in the event ships are unable to operate in the agreed manner will also be defined.”
Tory Channel is a designated transport route and effectively part of State Highway 1. It has been the link between the North and South islands for many decades and is how the vast majority of fast moving consumer goods and private vehicles and trains get from one island to the other.
Captain Grogan said all users are aligned on the need for a safe transport route and that current risk assessment is part of the cycle of continuous improvement towards safe navigation.
“It’s expected that these work streams will be sufficiently advanced by May 2021 so that Kiwirail will be able to carry out an extremely accurate assessment of the regulatory risk applicable to the navigation safety components of the two new IREX ferries in Marlborough,” he said.