Clydeport Operations Ltd pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches on Monday
A port operator has been fined £650,000 for health and safety breaches, after three tug boat crewmen died when their vessel capsized on the River Clyde in 2007.
Clydeport Operations Ltd, pleaded guilty to a number of breaches on Monday and were sentenced at the High Court in Edinburgh.
The company, owned by Peel Ports Limited, accepted that between 29 December 2000 and 19 December 2007 there had been a systematic failure in risk assessments and safe systems of work.
In December 2007, the Flying Phantom was one of three tug boats assisting a cargo ship as it made its way along the River Clyde. As they approached the Erskine Bridge, the Flying Phantom was secured to the bow of cargo ship.
Just before 6pm, in thick fog, the tug vessel called the cargo ship to say they had grounded and the pilot instructed the tug to let go the line.
However, the line came taut and the tug was pulled over and capsized – a situation known as ‘girting’.
The tug’s master, Stephen Humphreys, 33, chief engineer, Robert Cameron, 65, and Eric Blackley, 57, lost their lives. The mate, Brian Aitchison, 37, was able to climb clear before the tug sank.
Charges against the company also included a previous accident, where the Flying Phantom was the lead tug for Abu Egila in September 2000. On this occasion, the tug was let go and there were no injuries.
A Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) investigation found there were shortcomings in applying the Port Marine Safety code in that neither the company secretary nor the operations/human resources director had received adequate training to fulfil their role as the designated person responsible for ensuring health and safety.
Head of enforcement at the MCA captain Jeremy Smart, said: “This was a tragic event and MCA would like to express its sincere condolences to the families involved, who have endured a very difficult number of years.
“The investigation highlighted some very serious shortcomings in Clydeport Operations Limited’s safety management.”