FISHING COMPANY PROSECUTED IN SPAIN OVER DEATH OF SEAMAN
Defendant: Company – Lagun Talde S.A. of Spain at Bilbao Court in Spain
Date of Hearing: May 2008
Date of Offence: 6 May 2006
Details: The Spanish registered fishing vessel KIRRIXKI was discharging her cargo of fish, alongside the port of Lochinver, in the Scottish Highlands. At around 03:00 hours on 6 May 2006 the wire runner parted and a pallet of fish boxes fell onto the seaman Jose Maria Santos Fernandez. Mr Fernandez died of his injuries.
The vessel is a modern shelter decked stern trawler with a processing deck over the main fish hold. The Master was operating the crane which was being used to discharge the fish. The Mate was at the mid level in the hold, from where he could see both the bottom of the hold and the crane operator. He was acting as the signaler to the Master. Five men were in the hold, under the supervision of the Bosun. They included the deceased. Four seamen were working on the lorry ashore, onto which the fish was being loaded.
The pallet that fell weighed 21.9kg and was loaded with forty boxes, each weighing about 15kg, giving a total weight of around 630kg. The safe working load for the crane was, with the jib extended was 735kg. The wire, in a new condition, would have a breaking strain of around 3,500kg. As the pallet passed through the shelter deck hatch coaming it was caught and pulled free. It was at this point that the wire parted and the load fell back down into the vessel. Seaman Fernandez was struck on the head and shoulders by the falling load.
There were no maintenance records on the ship. The vessel returned to Spain every three months where all maintenance was carried out. Maintenance of the crane was attributed to various people but not clarified. There was also a safety notice on the side of the jib concerning the wearing of hard hats during lifting operations. It would appear the deceased was not wearing a helmet and there was no head gear in the hold. The crane wire was found to be dry and heavily corroded. There was pre-existent damage due to corrosion and fatigue at the failure location and elsewhere.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency investigated the death of Mr Fenandez to assist with the Spanish prosecution.
Penalty: The Company was fined €30,000 and compensation costs of €50,000 to the deceased’s next of kin.
DRUNK MASTER OF LADEN CHEMICAL TANKER SENTENCED AT COURT
Defendant: Captain Gonchar Volodymyr at Snaresbrook Crown Court
Date of Hearing: 19 November 2008
Date of Offence: 4 November 2008
Offence: Breach of the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003
On the 4th November 2008, Gonchar
Volodymyr, a Ukrainian, was Master of the Cypriot registered chemical tanker; Elousa Trikoukiotisa bound
for London from Rostock in Northern Germany. The vessel was laden with Ammonium Nitrate in liquid form
and had a crew of 15 on board. When the pilot boarded at the Sunk boarding area, he reported to the
Port Authority that the Master appeared drunk.
HOAX CALLER IMPRISONED
Defendant: Patrick Lane , at Caernarfon Crown Court
Date of Hearing: 9 January 2008
Date of Offence: 1 August 2007
Offence: Causing a public nuisance
Details: At 19:20 on the 1st August a call was received by Holyhead Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) from a man reporting that both he and his friend had been swimming off the Rhyl coast and his friend had not returned. Holyhead Coastguard tasked an RAF Rescue Helicopter, two lifeboats from Rhyl and Rhyl Coastguard Rescue Team who searched for four hours before standing down the search. North Wales Police assisted Enforcement in this matter.
MASTER THREE TIMES OVER ALCOHOL LIMIT
Defendant: Captain Oleg Syrovatko at Southampton Magistrates’ Court
Date of Hearing: 9 January 2008
Date of Offence: 8 January 2008
Offence: Breach of the Railway and Transport Safety Act 2003
MV Helen was unloading grain at Southampton on the 8th January 2008 when it was boarded by Port State
Control Inspectors from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA). The Inspectors had previously discovered
problems with the hours of work records kept onboard and were conducting a thorough review of these
records when it was noted that Captain Syrovatko appeared to be under the influence of alcohol. Inspectors
requested the assistance of the police, who administered a breath test, which Syrovatko subsequently
Notes: *The legal limit for alcohol in the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 is 35 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres*
COMMERCIAL FISHERMAN PROSECUTED FOLLOWING COLLISION
Defendant: Mr John Tomlinson at Truro Magistrates Court
Date of Hearing: 17 October 2008
Date of Offence: 3 October 2007
Offence: Section 58 of the merchant Shipping Act 1995 (Conduct endangering ships, structures or persons)
morning on 3 October 2007 a small blue wooden fishing boat had departed the Helford River for fishing
grounds south of Falmouth. Onboard was a crew of three. It was just before sunrise and the weather was
fine with good visibility. Navigation lights were on as was a deck light made up of fluorescent tubes.
Also that morning the small fast catamaran Blithe Spirit left Falmouth with her owner/skipper, alone
Penalty: Mr Tomlinson was ordered to pay £1800 in costs.
DUTCH FISHERMAN FINED FOR COLLISION
Defendant: Robbert van Belzen at Folkestone Magistrates Court
Date of Hearing: 27 October 2008
Date of Offence: 21 March 2007
Offence: Breach of Rule 5 of the Collision Regulations
21st March 2007 an Antigua & Barbuda registered coaster was on passage from Rye in Sussex to Brake
via the English Inshore Traffic Zone (EITZ). At about 1105utc the Chief Officer on the coaster observed
a southbound fishing vessel. It was on a collision course. Attempts to contact the fishing vessel by
radio met with no response. Eventually he put the helm hard over to starboard and while manoeuvring
the fishing vessel hit the coaster on the port quarter. Shortly before the collision someone ran from
below into the wheelhouse of the fishing vessel. The fishing vessel was the Belgian beam trawler Zeldenrust.
After exchanging details the coaster headed into Ramsgate for repairs and the Zeldenrust continued towards
the fishing grounds. The arrival of the coaster at Ramsgate with damage was the first the authorities
knew of the collision.
SHIP OWNER PLEADS GUILTY TO MERCHANT SHIPPING ACT OFFENCES
Defendant: Helms Reederai Jerome H KG of Wilhelmshaven in Germany at Folkestone Magistrates Court
Date of Hearing: 27 October 2008
Date of Offence: 27 February 2007
Offence: Breach of Rule 5 of the Colregs (failure
to keep a good lookout) and two breaches of the ISM Code (failing to provide adequate charts and failure
to comply with regulations concerning the provision of lookouts at night).
Penalty: They were fined £3700 and ordered to pay costs of £13000
WORKBOAT OPERATOR GUILTY OF UNSAFE OPERATIONS
Defendant: Company – Mainstream Scotland at Lerwick Sherrif Court
Date of Hearing: 22 September 2008
Date of Offence: 19 March 2007
Offence: Section 100 Merchant Shipping Act 1995, citing breaches in both HSE and MCA Health & Safety at Work Regulations
Details: The Conquest, a fish farm well boat used for harvesting farmed salmon, was returning from the nets at Aith on 19 March 2007. At around 17:00 hours, shortly before the vessel arrived at her berth in Voe, Mr Martin Ramsay went out on to the deck. Mr Ramsay died as a consequence of falling overboard. He was not wearing a lifejacket at the time. The Conquest had a permanent crew of five but there were no risk assessments, no passage plan and no copy of the Code of Safe Working Practice for Merchant Seamen.
Vessels operated by Mainstream in both Orkney and Shetland were inspected. These inspections revealed a lack of certification to the Loadline Regulations or the Code of Practice for the Safety of Small Workboats and Pilot Boat Regulations. Two vessels were found to be transporting fuel in bulk out to the cages to supply remote diesel electrical generators. There were no procedures and no spill protection measures in place. One vessel was found with mixed crew and no toilet facilities. The crew worked up to a twelve hour shift and had to use a bucket on the maindeck. There was no maritime experience in the company either in house or in the form of an external consultant hence no one to advise upon compliance with maritime regulations and to ensure risk assessments and other safety and emergency procedures were addressed.
Penalty: Mainstream were fined £14,700.
SECOND PROSECUTION FOLLOWING GROUNDING IN PENTLAND FIRTH
Defendant: NES Ltd of Hafnarfjordur, Iceland at Southampton Magistrates’ Court
Date of Offence: 10 January 2007
Offence: Breaches of the Collision Regulations, the International Safety Management Code and the Carriage of Cargoes Regulations
Details: The prosecution follows an investigation by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency into the circumstances surrounding the incident involving the `Sunna in the early hours of the morning of the 10th January 2007.
The Mate of the vessel was alone on the bridge during the hours of darkness. Unfortunately he fell asleep and at about 04.40 a.m. the Sunna ran aground on the western side of the island of Swona. The vessel was carrying 1900 tonnes of Ferrosilicone. The ship was re-floated as the tide rose the next morning with the help of an Orkney harbour tug and the Longhope Lifeboat and was towed into Lyness. The Sunna received severe damage to its hull with the ship bottoms damaged from stem to the engine room bulkhead.
An investigation by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) revealed that although the ship only had a crew of seven, the watchkeeper was alone on the bridge. as the Captain had instructed that the seaman were to be used as day workers and not stand a watch. It also showed that about three months before the incident, during a Port state Control at Moerdijk, Netherlands on the 2nd November 2006, the vessel was warned that a lookout as required by the STCW Code was required during the hours of darkness.
Ferrosilicone is perfectly safe when kept dry however when in contact with moisture it can produce hydrogen, phosphine and arsine gas. For this reason the vessel was required to carry equipment for testing the atmosphere. The equipment for detecting phosphine and arsine were out of date; the phosphine equipment by as much as 4 years. The Sunna had carried Ferrosilicone on a regular basis prior to the grounding.
Penalty: NES Ltd were fined a total of £10.500 plus £5987 in costs for three offences.
Notes: Charges against the owners of the vessel, Sunna Shipping Ltd were discontinued as the company no longer exists, following the sale of the vessel in 2007.
MOTOR CRUISER GOES WRONG WAY UP TRAFFIC SEPARATION SCHEME
Defendant: Mr Lee Choat at Folkestone Magistrates’ Court
Date of Offence: 5 March 2008
Offence: Breach of Collision Regulations – Rule 10 (b)(i)
Details: A 36ft motor pleasure vessel was being delivered to a new owner based at a location on the River Crouch in Essex from Brighton. The delivery skipper for this journey was Lee Choat. Mr Choat is an experienced skipper who owns his own motor boat and holds appropriate Royal Yachting Association qualifications.
At approximately 10.40 a.m. the vessel entered the South West shipping lane in the Dover Straits Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS). Mr Choat then took the vessel in a north easterly direction against the general flow of traffic. The vessel continued in this lane for approximately 50minutes travelling about 15 miles before exiting the South West lane and re-entering the Inshore Traffic Zone. During this period the vessel passed relatively close to three large merchant ships that were travelling in a south westerly direction.
Coastguard Officers at Dover Channel Navigation Information Service (CNIS) based at Langdon Battery made a number of unsuccessful attempts to contact the vessel by VHF radio. A passing ship was able to describe to Dover CNIS the colour and type of craft. The Coastguard aircraft was launched to identify the radar target. Having left the lane Mr Choat became aware of the aircraft activity and answered a radio call from Dover CNIS.
The Chairman of the Bench said that there were four aggravating factors in this case
Penalty: Mr Choat was fined £6,000 plus costs of £2,084.45. In arriving at the fine they took into account his early guilty plea and co-operation with the MCA.
SKIPPER PROSECUTED UNDER THE RAILWAYS AND TRANSPORT SAFETY ACT 2003
Defendant: Oleg Filimonov at Brighton Magistrate’s Court
Date of Offence: 4 July 2008
Offence: Charged under the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 – Section 78.
Details: The vessel was a Barbados registered coaster. The Customs Cutter VIGILANT was undertaking normal duties when they found the Master to be impaired by alcohol. He was reported as intoxicated to the MCA Surveyor who, in turn, requested that the Newhaven Harbour Master inform the local Police so he could be breathalysed. Mr Filimonov refused to be breathalysed and was arrested and taken to the Police Station.
In Brighton Magistrate’s Court on 9 July 2008 Mr Filimonov pleaded guilty to one offence contrary to section 7(6) Road Traffic Act 1988 as amended by Sections 78, 82 and 83 of The Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003.
Penalty: He was sentenced to a £2000 fine. He was unable to pay as ordered and the Court ordered that he serve 1 day’s detention in lieu.
Notes: Repatriation was to be considered and the Master will lose his qualification. He had previously been reported by HMRC for a significant revenue offence and was obstructive from the outset of the boarding by Cutter Officers. The crew found an invoice which suggested the offender had purchased three bottles of Gin earlier in the day. Only a part full single bottle was found on board. The Cutter crew became aware that the ship was on orders for a sailing between Newhaven and Dean quarry in the West Country and that it was due to sail very soon. Their clear concern was the danger to the ship, crew and thousands of others seagoing users in the English Channel that night.
FISHING BOAT SKIPPER SENT TO JAIL FOR DEATH OF TWO CREWMEN
Defendant: Conrad Zych at Belfast Crown Court.
Date of Offence: 19th January 2006
Details: On the morning of 19th January 2006 the Greenhill sailed with a crew of three; Conrad Zych, 28, Donall Gibson, 22 and Connor Bogues, 24. The boat spent the day trawling for prawns to the East of Ardglass. They stopped fishing at around 1600hrs on order to return to port. Conrad Zych admitted that he spent much of the return journey away from the wheelhouse working with the crew in the shelter deck, processing the prawns. He occasionally stepped back up into the wheelhouse to check their location before returning again to the deck. The weather that night was quite strong southerly winds with occasional rain showers. The sea was moderately rough.
At 2016 hours Falmouth Coastguard received a signal from an Emergency Position Indicating Rescue Beacon (EPIRB). The Portaferry Lifeboat Blue Peter 5 was launched and at 2120 it located the liferaft from the Greenhill, but only the skipper was found inside.
Skipper Zych told police that he had been working on the deck and when the boat grounded he ran to the wheelhouse and put the engines full astern. The boat backed off the rocks sustaining serious damage and began to fill with water. The skipper instructed the crew to fetch their lifejackets from the cabin, but it was already flooded and so they launched the liferaft. All three jumped into the water. Only the skipper managed to climb into the liferaft.
The search continued all night for the missing crew, however no other survivors were found. Divers subsequently found the body of Donnal Gibson on the 22nd January.
In summing up, the judge His Honour John Hart said that the skipper’s neglect of essential safety precautions could not be excused, and that his neglect to keep a proper lookout amounted to gross negligence and led directly to this terrible tragedy. He added that the failure to keep a proper watch is a not uncommon practice cannot exculpate the defendant from punishment, nor should it affect the nature of the punishment.
A joint investigation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency was conducted into why the Greenhill had grounded and subsequently sank near the entrance to her home port of Ardglass.
Penalty: 12 months imprisonment for each charge of unlawful killing of Donall Gibson and Connor Bogues, with sentences to run concurrently.
SKIPPER PROSECUTED FOR CAPSIZE OF MUSSEL DREDGER AND DEATH OF CREWMAN IN CARLINGFORD LOUGH
Defendant: Kevin Trainor at Belfast Magistrate’s Court
Date of Offence: 31 January 2002
Offence: Common Law charges of endangering the boat causing loss of life, and of endangering the boat causing the loss of the boat by capsize.
Details: The boat was a small day working mussel dredger of 9.8 metres length which was operated by a skipper and two crew men. On the weekend before the accident the skipper’s father and owner of the boat, James Trainor had removed the emergency bilge pump from the engine room leaving a 4 inch hole in the boat’s side. Before the boat went to sea on the 30 January 2002 the skipper Kevin Trainor said that he had fitted a wooden bung into the hole from inside the engine room. The boat began fishing on 30 January 2002, and by the afternoon had about five tonnes of mussels on the deck. They failed to make the tide and so were unable to discharge the catch. The next day they continued to fish and by noon on 31 January 2002 with about 7.5 tonnes of mussels on the deck the boat slowly turned over and capsized. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) assisted the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and the Public Prosecution Service in the investigation. In Belfast Magistrate’s Court recently Kevin Trainor pleaded guilty to two common law charges.
Penalty: He was sentenced to 18 months in jail suspended for three years. In passing sentence the judge told him that was it not for the fact that it had taken so long for the case to come to court he would not have suspended the sentence.