Pilot, Captain Prosecuted for River Humber Collision
A former captain and marine pilot have each been given four months suspended sentence after pleading guilty to causing a head-on collision between a car transporter ship and a ferry on the River Humber in December 2015.
Gehan Sirimanne, marine pilot, now retired and Ruslan Uromov, former captain were sentenced at Hull Crown Court on November 8 after pleading guilty to offences in connection with the collision. Ruslan Uromov was charged with conduct endangering ships, structures or individuals, contrary to section 58(2) and (5) of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. Gehan Sirimanne was charged with misconduct by pilot endangering ship, contrary to section 21 of the Pilotage Act 1987.
Both pleaded guilty to these offences and sentenced to four months, suspended for 18 months. Sirimanne was ordered to pay £45,000 in costs, and Uromov was £750 in costs.
On December 3, 2015, Sirimanne, who was then working as a marine pilot for Associated British Ports boarded the Panama-registered car carrier City of Rotterdam at Immingham Dock to navigate to the mouth of the River Humber where full control was then to be handed over to Urumov to take the vessel to sea.
‘Storm Desmond’ had been forecast earlier in the day, and strong winds were likely to affect that area bringing its own hazards to navigation that evening.
Humber Vessel Tracking Service (VTS) monitored the City of Rotterdam track which showed that she was straying into the north side of the shipping channel and into the Hawke Anchorage. Her passage was also into the track of vessels travelling west along the Humber. The Primula Seaways was one of those vessels travelling inward along the channel. Despite alerts from VTS and the captain of the Primula Seaways, the City of Rotterdam continued its passage along the wrong side of the shipping lane. This resulted in a head-on collision.
Although no injuries were reported, both vessels sustained major damage.
In passing sentence Judge HHJ Richardson said this represented the destruction of their professional reputation as professional mariners which had been eradicated by this criminal act.
Michael Groark, surveyor in charge for the Maritime & Coastguard’s Hull office, said, “This shows that the rules are there for a reason. It was a serious collision which could have resulted in serious injury. Both of these men ignored several alerts warning them they were on the wrong track and put not only themselves but others using the channel correctly, at risk.”