At a hearing at Aberdeen Sheriff’s court, the Master of a general cargo ship pleaded guilty to a Merchant Shipping offence following an incident while transiting the Dover Strait Traffic Separation Scheme.
Captain Andriy Naumenko, the Ukranian Master of the 10,100 tonne, Maltese registered vessel, SAFMARINE BATA, pleaded guilty to a breach of Rule 10(c) of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972, for which he was fined £2,000.
This prosecution follows an investigation by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency into the circumstances surrounding an incident involving the SAFMARINE BATA on the 12th April 2005 as it crossed the Southwest lane of the Dover Strait Traffic Separation Scheme whilst en route from Portugal to Aberdeen in the UK. Shortly after 1230 whilst in the vicinity of the MPC buoy the SAFMARINE BATA left the Northeast lane and entered the Southwest lane on a northerly course. It is a requirement of the international regulations, that traffic lanes should be crossed at right angles, the appropriate crossing course in this location is 315 degrees. Captain Naumenko was approximately half way across the lane when he realised he was on a collision course with another vessel that was correctly following the Southwest lane, he successfully avoided that vessel and after passing another vessel he resumed his northerly course and exited the lane.
The Sheriff, K. McLerman said,
“Not everyone who uses these lanes is a reliable person. You appear to be a reliable person but behaving in a way less reliable people behave.”
“You are cutting the route and to do that in the Dover Strait is just so irresponsible”
Mr Mike Toogood, Manager of the Channel Navigation Information Service (CNIS) based at Dover Coastguard, stated,
“This was a serious breach witnessed by several vessels using the scheme. The MCA regards full compliance with Rule 10 of the Collision Regulations as very important and a major factor in maintaining safety in the Dover Strait. The MCA will not hesitate to bring breaches of Rule 10 to the notice of the courts, even when vessels only stay in a UK port for a short period of time.”