Guilty verdict given to Chief Mate at helm of the dredger Shoreway that hit and sank the yacht Orca, killing one of her crew
On 8 June 2014 Shoreway, a 98 metre 5000 tonne dredger, collided with a Moody 31 sailing yacht Orca at the entrance to the River Orwell in Suffolk. The Shoreway had finished dredging in Felixstowe and was going out to sea to dump the spoils, with Chief Mate Gerardus Chapel at the helm.
The Shoreway, for a reason that remains unknown, left the deep water channel into an area frequented by pleasure vessels. In the area was the Orca, owned by Peter and Bernadine Ingram, who lived locally and had owned the boat for several years. They were out for a day sail, along with their two collie dogs.
The Shoreway, owned by Koninklijke Boskalis Westminster NV, hit the Orca with its bow and cut a large hole in the yacht’s starboard side. The Orca sank almost immediately. Mr Ingram and one of his dogs managed to swim to the surface, but his wife and other dog were caught in the wreckage. Mrs Ingram’s body was recovered by divers the following day, along with their dog.
The collision occurred in perfect visibility and fine weather. When interviewed by MCA Enforcement Officers, Mr Chapel, who is from Holland and had been a qualified Captain for several years, admitted that he did not see the yacht, even though it was clearly visible and on radar.
Mr Chapel was sentenced to nine months, reduced to six months and suspended for 18 months, after pleading guilty to conduct endangering ships, structures or individuals, under section 58 Merchant Shipping act 1995.
In passing sentence His Hon Judge Devaux said ‘Chapel accepted responsibility, co-operated and pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity. However, his failure to keep a proper watch caused Mrs Ingram’s death.’
Captain Roger Towner, Assistant Director from the MCA’s Maritime Safety & Standards branch said that it was clearly evident that Mr Chapel had failed to keep a proper lookout by all available means, which resulted in this tragic incident.
The MAIB (Marine Accident Investigation Board) has conducted an investigation, the results of which are currently under consultation.