The captain of a Dutch cargo ship that ran aground at Rathlin
Island has been fined £1,000 ($1,300) at Armagh Magistrates'
Court after pleading guilty to failing to keep a proper look out.
Ship's captain Aleksandr Iakovtsov of the MV Ruyter pleaded
guilty to charges brought by the U.K. Maritime & Coastguard
Agency (MCA). He was charged under the Merchant Shipping Distress
Signals and Prevention of Collision Regulations 1996 and also of
failing to safely navigate his ship and causing serious damage to
the ship (in breach of section 58 of the Merchant Shipping Act
On October 10, 2017 at 10:30 p.m. BST the Dutch cargo ship Ruyter
was carrying a cargo of timber from Lemosov, Russia to
Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland, when it grounded on the north
coast of Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland.
The ship called HM Coastguard Belfast and reported the grounding.
A lifeboat and Coastguard Rescue Team was launched and was
present when the ship refloated under its own power. The ship
reported no damage at the time and continued her voyage to
Warrenpoint, reporting to the Coastguard every hour. There was no
change of status.
When the ship arrived at about 1:30 p.m. on October 11, 2017 at
Warrenpoint, the pilot noticed the ship was 0.75 meters by the
head and had a list. The timber deck cargo had also shifted a
little. The harbor master at Warrenpoint found there was flooding
to the bow thrust compartment and to the fore peak tank. She
requested the ship to have an immediate underwater inspection.
An inspection was carried out on October 12 which revealed
extensive damage over the forward third of the vessel's length.
The number 1 double bottom tank was breached and flooded in
addition to the fore peak and bow thrust compartment.
Due to the strong winds associated with hurricane Ophelia now
rapidly approaching Ireland, the ship was allowed to berth in
Warrenpoint on October 15, 2017. The cargo was discharged to
facilitate further inspection and a port state control inspection
by the MCA resulted in the Ruyter being detained.
Judge Paul Copeland said, "It should have been apparent to you as
an experienced mariner that you were on a collision course as you
left Islay towards Northern Ireland. You chose to leave the
bridge as the ship approached the coast of Ireland. It should
have been apparent to you from the radar that you were getting
close to the shore. The lights on Rathlin should also be apparent
to you. You are fortunate the ship struck a shallow patch under
the cliffs and that you were able to come off in a short time."
Copeland continued, "You did make an immediate report and
engaged the support and rescue services. Fortunately, no one
onboard was injured. It is understandable that you may not have
been aware of the extent of the damage until after some time -
fortunately there was no further incident. I'm satisfied it was
not aggravated by alcohol and that there were no other ships put
in danger by the progress of your ship. I am also taking into
account you have been 31 years at sea with 16 years as captain
and in this context you have been relieved of your command and
this will affect your future work."
Iakovtsov was sentenced to pay £1,000, or 28 days in prison if is
not paid within 24 hours, and was released later the same day and
returned to Russia.
Captain Bill Bennett Technical Manager for the MCA, Northern
Ireland said, "I am not surprised at the extent of the damage.
The captain is very lucky that the outcome was not more serious.
I am very concerned that he failed to have a lookout on watch
with him and that the off-watch alarm and ECDIS alarms should
have been switched on - this put his crew and his vessel at risk.
Thankfully, there was no pollution from this incident.
"Keeping people safe is at the heart of what we do and we are
committed to working with our partner agencies to protect those
at sea by stopping dangerous practices and vessels making their
way on the water, and to hold accountable those responsible."