At a hearing Lyndhurst Magistrates Court, the owners and managers of Cap Henri, a UK registered container vessel, were prosecuted following its detention in Itajai, Brazil on 9th September 2009 for not complying with an Exemption Certificate covering Life saving Appliances.
At the time of this incident, the Cap Henri was a UK registered container ship. On the 27th August 2009, the starboard lifeboat suffered damage to its bow and stern area during a drill. The matter was reported to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). An Exemption Certificate was issued which required the Cap Henri to be temporarily fitted with additional liferafts and Hydrostatic Release Units (HRUs) with an additional capacity of not less than 28 persons. This was to cover for the unserviceable lifeboat. Also drills and modification to the muster list were to be carried out. Three months was allowed in order to get the lifeboat repaired. The certificate was issued on the 28th August 2009.
On the 9th September 2009 the Cap Henri was inspected by Brazilian Port state Control Inspector in Itajai. Unfortunately the terms of the Exemption Certificate had not been complied with and the vessel was detained. Liferafts and HRUs were supplied the next day. The Brazilians released the vessel on 11th September 2009.
In the twelve (12) days the Cap Henri operated in breach of the Exemption Notice, the vessel visited another two ports before arriving in Itajai.
Kommanditsesell MS CPO Norfolk Offen Reederei GmbH of Hamburg, Germany , owners of the Cap Henri, pleaded guilty to permitting the vessel to proceed to sea without complying with an Exemption Certificate. They were fined £5,000 plus costs of £5,676
Reederei Claus-Peter Offen (GmbH & Co) KG of Hamburg, Germany, managers of the Cap Henri, pleaded guilty failing to comply with the International Safety Management (ISM) Code and were fined £5,000, the maximum fine magistrates can impose for these offences, plus costs of £8,589.
In summing up the Magistrate said that “They took this matter very seriously indeed. They had regard to the balance of life and commercial interest. They took the view that accepting the early plea, the discount brought the matter down from the Crown Court”.
Mr. Simon Milne, Manager of the MCA’s Vessel Policy Branch said: “The Exemption Certificate, as used in this case, is a method of allowing a vessel to continue operating in the short term when statutory safety equipment is damaged, lost, or unserviceable. The Cap Henri had reported that one of its lifeboats was unserviceable, which meant they had only half of its listed lifeboat capacity.
”The MCA stands ready to assist responsible operators when issues such as this arise, and the terms of the exemption laid down a pragmatic response that ensured an appropriate level of safety while permitting the vessel to continue in commercial operation.
“The owners and managers of the Cap Henri allowed the vessel to operate for 12 days without complying with the terms of the Exemption Certificate. By doing so their failure to comply had the potential to put the crew of the vessel at great risk. The MCA view non-compliance with the terms of any certificate a very serious matter’.
After the incident, Cap Henri has reflagged twice, first to Germany then to Liberia.