A report into the death of a young fisherman highlights concerns about navigation procedures
The death of a teenage fisherman off the Scottish coast, following a collision between his boat and a passenger ferry, has raised questions about watchkeeping.
Dan McNeill,16, from Tynemouth, went missing when his boat, Homeland, and the ferry Scottish Viking collided five miles off the coast of St Abbs, in Eyemouth, in August 2010. His brother Joseph, 20, the boat’s skipper was rescued while Dan vanished.
Now a report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has found the ferry, which was travelling from Rosyth to Zeebrugge carrying 47 crew and 259 passengers, had shown “complacency and lack of precautionary thought”.
Investigators said the tragedy happened because “those responsible for the watch on either vessel had not taken sufficient action”.
The report said Homeland had left Eyemouth Harbour at about 1845 BST on the evening of the collision, Scottish Viking had left Rosyth headed for Zeebrugge about an hour and a half earlier.
They collided at about 1945 BST a few miles off St Abb’s Head in good visibility.
Homeland quickly capsized and McNeil’s body was lost at sea before being recovered nearly three months later. The MAIB report has concluded a number of factors led to the collision.
It said watchkeeping on the ferry did not monitor or plot the path of Homeland sufficiently and, once a risk of collision was deemed to exist, failed to take sufficient action to avoid it.
It added the crew of Homeland did not recognise the risk of collision until it was too late to take effective action.
The investigation also identified “complacency and lack of precautionary thought” on the Scottish Viking as well as “ineffective implementation of the company’s navigation policy and procedures”.
Concerns were highlighted about “restricted all-round visibility from the aft deck” on the prawn trawler as well as “conflicting task priorities and possible lack of watchkeeping proficiency”.
Dan’s father Don, 61, told the Evening Chronicle newspaper, “The problem is it’s a case of might makes right. The ferry that hit Dan was going at 26 miles an hour when there were three fishing boats in the area.
“We would like to see something done about the enforcement of collision regulations.”
Dan’s mother Michelle Thomson, 46, said, “There has to have been a
purpose for Daniel’s life and if this is his purpose it means we’ve got
to keep fighting for changes.”
The report, however, concluded that in the light of changes made by the ferry line following the accident, the MAIB did not need to make fresh safety recommendations.