Lax supervision leaves chief officer out of a job

Seaman who lost his job after prioritising a phone call over a trainee on his watch has had his unfair dismissal claim thrown out

Lax supervision leaves chief officer out of a job
The Allison Tide was the scene of a workplace dispute in September last year


A former chief officer with offshore services provider Tidewater Marine has had his termination for serious misconduct reaffirmed by the Fair Work Commission (FWC).

Vincent Lombardo had brought an unfair dismissal claim against the company, but the FWC’s senior deputy president Lea Drake has found the decision to terminate was not unjust, harsh, or unreasonable.

Lombardo had been chief officer aboard the multipurpose vessel Allison Tide in September last year.

In this role, he was responsible for supervising a trainee integrated rating officer in a manual steering of the vessel. But during this task, Lombardo received and answered a mobile phone call.

Drake found he then carried on his conversation, despite a waypoint GPS alarm being set off, indicating a change of course was required. Lombardo also failed to respond to queries from the second officer.

"Despite [the] questions, you failed to end your telephone conversation and supervise [the trainee] in effecting a course change," the company’s letter of termination noted.

It also alleged Lombardo had thrown a log book at the head of the Allison Tide’s master in a separate incident of misconduct and failed to hand over duties appropriately.

Lombardo told the FWC that the matters were both minor, and that the termination also related to previous incidents that had not been investigated properly. But Drake agreed that the incidents on September 6 and 7 were enough to justify the dismissal.

"Although I am satisfied and find that he was more than likely in a position to avert any crisis that might have arisen from [the trainee’s] navigational inexperience, Tidewater were entitled to have Mr Lombardo perform his duties to the standard it required," she rules.

"I am satisfied that Mr Lombardo did not perform his duties to the level required by Tidewater.

"I am satisfied and find that Tidewater had valid reasons for the termination of Mr Lombardo’s employment which were sound, defensible and well founded."

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