Could Winston be right this time?

The Herald reports:

NZ First, a coalition Government party, posed the extraordinary question on X yesterday about what might have gone wrong.

“Is it true that the Aratere ran aground when someone put the autopilot on, went for a coffee, and then couldn’t turn the autopilot off in time when that someone came back…?”, the party posted.

Maritime New Zealand has cautioned that “conjecture” about the cause of the incident is unhelpful while an investigation continues, and KiwiRail says the “regulated number of qualified people” were on the ship’s bridge on the night of the grounding.

This is not a denial, and it is something that could be easily denied. Now generally one should be sceptical of anything Winston claims, especially about the Interislander, but maybe NZ First are on to something here.

UPDATE: They were right, reports The Post:

One mistakenly-pressed button sent the 17,816-tonne Aratere ferry off-course – but crew on the bridge couldn’t wrestle back control from autopilot before running aground was inevitable, a leaked internal safety bulletin shows.

It is understood that a key part of the investigation into the Interislander ferry’s grounding in the Marlborough Sounds on June 21 will be whether the bridge crew knew how to disengage the autopilot when using a recently-installed steering system.

So the ferry did not break down. It was crew error, yet the normal suspects howled that somehow this was the fault of the Government for not proceeding with the $3 billion+ new ferry project.

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