Safety issues raised by the Ouzo sinking


The latest issue of the Cruising Association journal carries a well-informed article by John Lansdell entitled ‘Ouzo and after’. In the piece the author wonders if the minimum manning requirement of just two people on the bridge of a merchant ship is adequate when they are steaming through ‘areas of intense small boat use like the Thames Estuary, off Harwich, or the Solent’.

The officer of the watch has to man the plot, handle the radar and is ‘only available as an extra pair of eyes on an occasional basis’ on ships which have got larger, and faster: up from 15 to 28 knots passage speed over the last few years.

He also wonders whether yacht’s navigation lights are sufficient anymore and calls for their range to be increased to two miles and for strobe lights to be fitted to the masthead on sailing yachts only.

Next he talks about radar reflectors saying that the MAIB report on the Ouzo sinking in which three yachtsmen drowned after their Sailfish 25 was either swamped or hit by a larger vessel, ‘would appear to indicate some manufacturers should be prosecuted for misrepresentation of their products.’

Following the aquittal of the ferry Pride of Bilbao’s watch officer, Michael Hubble, for the manslaughter of the Ouzo sailors at Winchester Crown Court in December, Lansdell reports that the MAIB have removed their damning report of the P&O ferry’s operation from their website.

In the next issue of Yachting Monthly we run an exclusive report on the riddle surrounding a second ship which was in the vicinity of Ouzo on that fateful night.