Captain's actions could have caused catastrophic consequences

Contributed by editor on Jan 09, 2006 - 12:09 AM


The Captain of a Panamanian registered coaster has been fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,500 following an incident in the Dover Strait on New Years Day.

Yuriy Moskalenko, from the Ukraine, pleaded guilty to a breach of section 58 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 (conduct endangering ships, structures or persons) after his vessel was seen to steer an eratic course through the channel.

The coaster ‘Dreamer 1’ had left Kings Lynn bound for Plymouth on the 31 December 2005 with a cargo of scrap, it was seen making several large alterations of course over a period of nearly three hours and passed very close to the Sandettie Light Vessel.

It was claimed that the vessel had suffered a steering gear failure and that it was ‘safer’ to continue steaming at 4 to 7 knots rather than stopping the vessel while sorting out the problem. It was also claimed that there was a problem with the VHF radio on the ‘Dreamer 1’, however there was a back up and several portable VHF radio available. 

In passing sentence the Magistrates said: “Obvious consequences of this incident could have been catastrophic, actions of others and good fortune meant that nothing happened.�

Spike Hughes, Dover Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre Manager, stated: “By carrying on as he did the Master of the ‘Dreamer 1’ placed his own vessel and other shipping at risk. He also nearly damaged a major navigational aid. Mechanical problems on vessels in the Dover Strait are not unknown. The best action in this case would have been to stop the vessel and inform CNIS of the problem. �