Ferry crash captain failed to keep proper lookout, court hears

A 4,000-tonne passenger ferry ploughed into a small pleasure boat with four people on board because its captain failed to keep a proper lookout, a court has heard.

Captain Ian Drummond allegedly sat “static” in his chair as the 107-metre (305ft) Red Funnel vessel, Red Falcon, smashed into the 10-metre motor cruiser almost forcing it to capsize, according to The Guardian.

Drummond, 62, remained completely unaware the Isle of Wight-bound Red Falcon ferry had crashed into the cruiser during its journey across the Solent from Southampton, Hants, the city’s magistrates heard.

One of the four people on board the cruiser, Julie Jackson, said she was thrown across the vessel by the impact. Along with her husband Peter and two other passengers, she scrambled to put on a life jacket while water began to engulf the vessel.

In a statement read to the court, Jackson said: “As I stepped out on the deck, I was made aware of a number of things happening all at once. I heard a loud bang, glass smashing, and saw a wall of red on my right-hand side. At the same time, I was thrown towards the seating area. We started to put on our life jackets.”

Prosecutors allege Drummond, who began sailing in 1972, would have spotted the yacht in front of the Red Funnel ferry if he had ordered a “simple lookout”. He also failed to view CCTV immediately in front of him, the court was told.

Opening the case, Oliver Willmott, prosecuting, said: “He [Drummond] had been on the Solent, working this route, for many years. They are notoriously busy waters, there’s an enormous amount of traffic.

“If there had been a proper lookout, the vessel would have been sighted and avoided. The vessel was visible. A simple look out through the bridge windows would have avoided it.

“Throughout this period … Captain Drummond is static. He could have moved around. It’s our case that he should have moved around. This is a vessel with blind sectors. Good seamanship dictates that the lookout is mobile and not static.”

Drummond, of Southampton, denies misconduct of master likely to endanger ships, structures or individuals, and being the master responsible for conduct of a vessel contravening the merchant shipping regulations on 29th September last year.

Read the full article in The Guardian.

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