An investigation by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency found the accident was caused by a "catalogue of failures" by the masters of the two boats

6 February 2017

The masters of two vessels have been fined £3,000 each, plus costs, after a “catalogue of failures” led to the boats colluding on the River Humber in thick fog last May.

David Carlin, the master of the Second World War motor launch Peggotty and Thomas Neilsen, master of the Danish flagged Petunia Seaway were both prosecuted under section 58 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, as a result of an investigation by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

Both pleaded guilty to conduct endangering ships under the Act when they appeared at Hull Magistrates Court on 3 February 2017.

At around 4.30am on 19 May 2016 Peggotty, a 50 foot vessel, had left Grimsby Docks making its way to Hull.

Although this was a private voyage, Carlin as a professional master mariner and Humber pilot was very experienced.

The MCA said that despite the thick fog he “failed to comply with a number of regulations to keep his and other vessels safe”.

These included failing to make his vessel’s radar operational, failing to make sound signals and failing to ensure all the navigation lights were working.

Carlin had also not taken the conditions into account or prepared an effective passage plan for the journey and was relying on an untested mobile phone app.

At the same time, the Petunia Seaway, a vehicle transport vessel, 200 metres long and 34,000 gross tonnage, was making its way down the Humber towards Grimsby.

Its master Thomas Neilsen, from Denmark, was on the bridge and in charge.

He allowed the vessel to proceed at 14 knots in zero visibility, without making sound signals.

Two men plead guilty to sinking a boat as part of an insurance scam

The MCA states that Neilsen also failed to properly monitor and assess the ship’s radar to appreciate they were bearing down on the Peggotty.

“Mr Carlin on his part had not realised the Peggotty was in the main shipping channel and was effectively blind to the collision course his vessel was on with the Petunia Seaway,” said the MCA in a media release.

“Just before 4.50am the two vessels collided almost head on. The Peggotty was able to pass down the port side of the much larger Petunia Seaways, scraping down the side as it went. However the impact was enough to damage the hull of the Peggotty and it began to take on water.”

Carlin was able to broadcast a Mayday call and the two on board were picked up by a nearby pilot boat before the Peggotty sank and was lost.

Sentencing both Carlin and Neilson at Hull Magistrates Court, the district judge said that Carlin for his part had “a catalogue of failures, while Mr Neilsen’s actions were insufficient.”

Changes to VHF channel numbers to contact UK Coastguard

As well as fining both of them £3,000 each, the district judge also ordered Neilsen to pay £9,318.20 in costs as well as a £170 surcharge.

Carlin was told he would have to pay £6,568 costs plus the £170 surcharge.

The surveyor in charge at the Maritime & Coastguard Agency’s Hull Marine Office, Gwen Lancaster, said: “I am both surprised and disappointed that this collision, which could easily have resulted in far worse consequences for those onboard the Peggotty, occurred in the first place.”

“Both vessels were under the command of experienced professional captains who should have known better. This whole incident reflects complacency on their part in addition to a blatant disregard for the rules designed to prevent collisions occurring at sea,” continued Lancaster.

“The Maritime & Coastguard Agency will prosecute those who endanger themselves and others in this way and our message is clear – there is no room for complacency where safety is concerned,” added the surveyor.


19 May 2016

Two people were rescued from the River Humber in the early morning of 19 May, following a collision between two boats in fog.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) says the Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) reported a Mayday call to Humber Coastguard at 4.57am.

The motor cruiser, Peggotty, which had two people on board, reported it was sinking just north of Grimsby dock.

Both the Humber and Cleethorpes RNLI lifeboats were launched.

A Port of Grimsby pilot vessel also attended the scene and was able to rescue the two people from the vessel. A short while afterwards, the motor cruiser sank.

A spokesman for the MCA said: “The motor cruiser Peggotty reported that they had been in collision with another larger vessel in foggy conditions.”

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has been informed of the incident.