Ouzo deaths could have been prevented, says MAIB report

The MAIB report released today says that the lookout on car ferry Pride of Bilbao did not see yacht Ouzo until too late because he was wearing light-sensitive glasses which darken when exposed to light.

The lookout had only been on the bridge for nine minutes, says the report. Had his night vision been better established, he might have seen the yacht sooner. The officer first spotted the yacht when it was just 300m ahead of the ferry. The officer of the watch made a ‘last minute’ manoeuvre to avoid the yacht, and believed he had been successful when lights were sighted astern of the ferry.

However, the report says that the ferry either hit or sailed so close to Ouzo that it was capsized by its wash. The three men were in the water, and could have been rescued by the ferry, but it ‘did not stop to assit, or attempt to communicate with the yacht.’ According to the report, crew member James Meaby spent up to 12 hours in the water before succumbing to drowning or hypothermia, while his companions Rupert Saunders and Jason Downer could have survived for three hours.

Watch officer Michael Hubble has been charged with the manslaughter of the three men. The trial is scheduled to begin at Winchester Crown Court on October 29.