The operator of the Danio cargo ship, which ran aground on the Farne Islands last year, has been ordered to pay more than £70,000 for a “shocking failure” to comply with safety regulations.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the six-man crew of the 262ft vessel were asleep when it crashed onto rocks at the islands last March.
Management firm Cuxship Management GMBH, of Cuxhaven, Germany, pleaded guilty in January to charges of failing to maintain a proper look-out and failing to meet the requirements regarding the safety-management system.
This morning the company was fined £60,000 and ordered to pay costs of £12,796.77, along with a victim surcharge of £120.
Judge Brian Forster said: “It is clear to me the shocking failure to comply with regulations led the vessel to sail on automatically.
“The potential for disaster was obvious, as it sailed on silently at night, with no look-out, with the threat to other vessels at sea.”
The Danio ran aground near the Little Harcar Rock in the Farne Islands where it was stranded for 13 days due to tide and weather conditions.
It was eventually freed thanks to the high tide in the early hours of Thursday, March 28.
At the initial hearing in January, Graham Duff, prosecuting for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), told the court that the chief officer of the vessel took over the watch at midnight but fell asleep around 3am.
The ship then “proceeded blind” for around 90 minutes before hitting the Farne Islands.
“It appears this vessel sailed as a matter of course without a look-out,” said Mr Duff.
The court also heard that the chief officer on watch at the time had not had sufficient rest.
Mr Duff added: “There wasn’t sufficient watch and there was a tired officer of the watch. It was an accident waiting to happen.”
Commenting after today’s sentencing, Alan Thomson, surveyor in charge at the MCA’s Tyne marine office, said: “It was very fortunate that the damage to the MV Danio was relatively small and that there were no injuries or deaths. It is also fortunate that the effects on such an environmentally sensitive area as the Farne Islands were minimal.”
He added: “The requirement to keep a good lookout is set out in UK, national and international legislation. All owners and operators are reminded to ensure that their vessels are being operated and manned correctly.”