Company fined £1.7 million for tug boat deaths

A Scottish company has been fined over £1.7 million after three workers died in an accident on a tugboat.

Mr Stephen Humphreys, 33, Eric Blackley, 57, and Robert Cameron, 65, died when the tug boat they were working on (the Flying Phantom) capsized whilst transporting a cargo ship in 2007.

On 19 December 2007 the Flying Phantom was towing a 77,000-tonne cargo ship in thick fog when it capsized. The crewmen listed above were trapped on the boat, whilst one other crewman, Mr Brian Aitchison, managed to escape to safety. The matter was then reported to the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), who conducted an investigation into the circumstances of the accident.

The MAIB’s investigation concluded that the company which owned the tugboat, Svitzer Marine Limited, was at fault for breaching a number of health and safety regulations, including failing to supply suitable equipment on the tugboat and failing to put in place a safe system of work to allow work to be undertaken safely. This investigation recommended that both Svitzer Marine Limited and Clydeport be prosecuted for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Svitzer Marine Limited’s case came to the Edinburgh High Court earlier this month. It’s barrister stated that that what had happened was “an appalling tragedy” and that the company’s remorse was “deep and genuine”. The company pleaded guilty to breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £1.7 million. Judge Lord Justice Turnbull stated: “In identifying the particular level of fine I consider appropriate in the present case I am not seeking to identify the level of the worth of the individuals who lost their lives. Nor am I seeking to reflect in financial terms the measure of the loss suffered by their families.”

Redmans Solicitors did not act for either party in this case and were not associated in any way with it