An investigation report from New Zealand’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission (Commission) has revealed that miscommunication between a harbour pilot and the master of the Azamara Quest passenger ship led to the accident of the vessel in January 2016.

On the day of the incident, the Maltese-flagged vessel was travelling to the port of Picton in New Zealand’s Marlborough Sounds when it struck Wheki Rock.

The incident caused minor damage to the hull and damage to one propeller of the ship with 652 passengers and 394 crew members on-board.

It was found during the Commission’s investigation that a harbour pilot boarded Azamara Quest outside the entrance to Tory Channel. They exchanged information and discussed the passage plan through Tory Channel to Picton with the ship’s master.

The Commission’s report said: “Due to miscommunication, the passage inwards began with the master and pilot having different understandings of how the first turn would be conducted.

“The incident caused minor damage to the hull and damage to one propeller of the ship with 652 passengers and 394 crew members on-board.”

“As a result, the turn was initiated late and the ship never achieved a sufficient rate of turn to avoid contacting Wheki Rock close to the northern shoreline.

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“The ship struck the rock, causing minor damage to the hull and damage to one propeller. Nobody was injured.”

In its investigation, the Commission also found that the bridge team had no common understanding of the plan for the ship to make the turn into Tory Channel because of lack of communication.

Among other findings, the Commission has identified various safety issues associated with the operation of Azamara Quest.