Tuesday, June 13, 2006
A Chinese seaman is feared dead after he was lost overboard from an oil tanker near the entrance to Wellington Harbour in stormy conditions. The man was swept overboard about 4pm yesterday while securing a ladder on the Formosa 13, which was heading to Timaru in swells of up to four metres. "I understand he was pulling a rope to secure the pilot's ladder," Wellington harbourmaster Mike Pryce said. His chances of survival were not good. "There's a southerly, it's cold, he had no lifejacket ... " Mr Pryce said.Two helicopters and three boats, including the police and pilot launches, searched for the man in heavy swells till about 6.45pm, when the attempt was abandoned. Police officers also went aboard the tanker, which stayed outside Wellington Harbour with the pilot still on board, to speak to its crew. If the man is confirmed dead, it is understood that it would be the first death of a crew member swept overboard in Wellington Harbour since 1970, when three sailors were swept off the frigate Waikato as it escorted the royal yacht Britannia in heavy seas and 60-knot (110km/h) winds. Two of the sailors were rescued by the ship's helicopter, but the third, Artificer David Lindsay, drowned.