Skipper Fined After Grounding on Lizard Peninsula
Friday, September 06, 2013

The skipper of a French fishing vessel has been ordered to pay £11,155 in fines and costs after pleading guilty to endangering his vessel and crew together with failing to keep a proper look-out after falling asleep.

On the afternoon of Wednesday 28 August 2013 the fishing vessel Scuderia sailed from Roscoff in northern France towards fishing grounds off the Lizard Peninsula. At about 10:30 p.m. the vessel ran aground at Lankidden Cove between Cadgwith and Coverack.

Falmouth Coastguard was contacted at 11 p.m. and an emergency response activated, with the Lizard RNLI lifeboat attending together with the Porthoustock Coastguard Rescue Team. None of the five crew was injured but the forward fuel tank had been ruptured, with the loss of approximately 10 metric tons of diesel. An anti-pollution and salvage operation was put in place and the vessel was refloated on Monday, September 2, 2013. Pollution was minimal with no longer term problems anticipated.

The 38-year-old skipper, Gilles Lemaitre, stated the grounding had been caused by him falling asleep on the bridge after having had little sleep when off-watch and self prescribing Codeine tablets.

Mr. Lemaitre appeared before Truro Magistrates' Court today where he pleaded guilty to both offences. In sentencing, the court took into consideration his full cooperation with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) in this matter as well as his early guilty plea.

Tony Heslop, the MCA's Area Operations Manager (Survey and Inspection) for the South West said, "There are no excuses for the person responsible for navigating the vessel to fall asleep on the job. More so when that person is the skipper who has taken medication that could impact on him staying awake and alert. He could have called one of the other crew members to come to the wheelhouse and take over.

"This was a serious incident which could have had much more severe consequences."

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