THE Chinese seaman in charge of a bulk carrier that caused extensive damage to a treasured world heritage area off the Central Queensland coast must serve three months behind bars.
Xuegang Wang, 46, failed to chart Shen Neng 1's position every 15 minutes once he took watch aboard the vessel after it had been loaded with coal at the Gladstone port at Easter 2010.
Wang, who has lost his marine licence, was sentenced to 18 months jail when he pleaded guilty in Brisbane District Court yesterday to being in control of the vessel when it damaged the marine park.
He will be released after three months on a two-year good behaviour bond.
Judge Leanne Clare said there was a failure in navigation but his actions were not momentary inattention, rather "gross negligence" on a treasured marine park.
"It was the largest incident of damage caused by shipping to the marine park to date," she said.
"He had the necessary navigational aids and the experience to use them.
"The need to change direction during his shift would have been obvious from the start.
"Yet he failed to monitor the position of the boat as required.
"It seems his casualness came from a misplaced confidence in an alarm system that he had not checked.
"Mr Wang appears to be a good man who had a very bad day."
'Mental calculation' fails
Defence barrister Jeff Hunter said his client took over after the ship had already changed course and he had wrongly relied on the GPS.
"He mentally calculated when he thought the vessel should turn and he miscalculated," he said.
"(He accepts) if he had been fixing his position more frequently he would have known ..."