New Zealand – Azamara Quest investigation report, master/pilot communication failure


( The New Zealand Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) issued the report of its investigation of the 27 January 2016 incident when the passenger vessel Azamara Quest struck Wheki Rock while entering the port of Picton. A harbor pilot boarded the vessel outside the entrance to Tory Channel.

The master and pilot exchanged information and discussed the passage plan through Tory Channel to Picton, in particular the strong currents in the tight turn required on entry to Tory Channel. However, due to miscommunication the passage inwards began with the master and pilot having different understandings of how the first turn would be conducted. As a result the turn was initiated late and the ship never achieved a sufficient rate of turn to avoid contacting the rock.

The incident caused minor damage to the hull and damage to one propeller. Nobody was injured. The investigation found that the bridge team had no common (agreed) understanding of the plan for the ship to make the turn into the channel because the details of how the turn would be made and the influence the tide would have on the ship during the turn had not been clearly communicated. Therefore, with no agreed plan, the task of the bridge team monitoring the ship’s progress through the turn was set up to fail.

For more details click on below image to download full report.

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  1. I've always found New Zealand pilots (and Australia) very professional and quite involved in the Master-Pilot exchange. The turn was delayed by 21 seconds and the ambiguity in the discussion probably resulted in the lack of action by the rest of the Bridge Team.

    Like I always share a heuristic with my colleagues '10 minutes of inattention during ocean passage, and 10 seconds of inattention during manoeuvering can lead to disaster'.

    PS: Also surprised that transit through the channel on a pilot boat was included in credit towards getting licensed to pilot larger ships.