"Important lessons must be learned"

The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) have responded to the not guilty verdict in the trial of Michael Hubble, the watch officer on the P&O ferry Pride of Bilbao on the night the yacht Ouzo was lost.

The Ouzo’s three crew were drowned after what was believed to have been a collision or close-quarters situation with another boat, overnight on August 21 2006. The Ouzo itself has never been found.

At the end of a six week trial at Winchester Crown Court, Hubble was found not guilty of three counts of manslaughter through gross negligence and not guilty of three counts of engaging in conduct as a seaman likely to cause death or serious injury.

The court heard he had been in charge of the Pride of Bilbao that evening, when he said he encountered no emergency situation.

Rod Carr, Chief Executive of the RYA, commented: “First and foremost our condolences go to the family and friends of the three yachtsmen. However, the verdict does not detract from the important lessons that must be learned from this tragic incident and the need to improve procedures across the whole maritime community.”

He continued: “Following the accident, the MAIB (Marine Accident Investigation Branch) produced a report containing advice and recommendations both to commercial ships and to recreational yachts. The RYA has worked hard to communicate the relevant advice and recommendations to the recreational boating community and we hope that the commercial shipping industry will also embrace the MAIB’s proposals.

“The RYA will continue to work with Government and the commercial shipping industry to ensure that, as far as possible tragedies such as “Ouzo” are avoided in the future and the RYA will continue to promote its educational message in this regard.”