The Chief Officer of a cargo ship which ran aground on the southern coast of the Island of Bute last year has been fined. The accident has been linked to the Chief Officer falling asleep at the wheel.
The accident occurred on July 2, 2012, when the cargo ship Coastal Isle was on its way from Belfast to Greenock. Fortunately, there were no injuries in the accident, although the ship suffered serious damage.
The Chief Officer admitted in court that he had left the bridge to use the bathroom, and after that, has no recollection of any of the events that took place until after the accident. The captain later testified that the Chief Officer was found asleep in his bed after the accident.
The Chief Officer pleaded guilty in court for failure to safely navigate a ship, and has been fined 5000 pounds.
It is extremely fortunate that that there were no major injuries or fatalities or an environmental spill as a result of this accident. This was a maritime disaster that could have easily resulted in a tragedy. The crewmembers of this cargo ship were also at risk because of the negligence of the Chief Officer.
The doctrine of seaworthiness allows crewmembers to hold other crewmembers on the vessel responsible for any injury sustained due to negligence. Many crewmembers are under the assumption that for a vessel to be unseaworthy, it must be damaged, physically deficient or must lack essential equipment.
However, for a vessel to be considered complete seaworthy, it must also be staffed by competent, experienced and skilled crewmembers who know their job. Failure to hire competent staff members like this could place the vessel owner at risk of an unseaworthiness lawsuit if crewmember negligence causes injuries.
The maritime lawyers at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers represent workers who have been injured due to unsafe conditions on an unseaworthy vessel.