The previously sunken ship required rescue by the RNLI after having been deemed unfit to go to sea.

The owner of a previously sunken harbour tanker has been fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £7,000 costs after pleading guilty to a charge of operating a dangerously unsafe vessel.

Joseph O’Connor, 64, was fined at the hearing in Southampton Magistrates Court on 12 February for taking his 1969-built, 274-gross-ton vessel to sea when it was not supposed to leave coastal waters.

Amir Esmiley, area operations manager at the Southampton Marine Office said: “This vessel should not have left the Solent in the condition it was in. It triggered a major search and rescue operation when it sprang a leak and left its crew in danger. Fortunately for all involved, the situation was safely resolved.

“If there is a need for commercial vessels that are not designed or built for open water passages, then the advice of the MCA should be sought.”

The Wadestone (then known as the Humber Star) was first deemed dangerously unsafe when it sank at its berth on Weston Wharf in the River Solent in early 2009, spilling some of its fuel and effluent into the river.

At the time, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) detained the ship, noting that it had been poorly maintained and repaired.

The ship was inspected and released from detention more than two years later in October 2011.

In May 2011, Joseph O’Connor bought the vessel — naming it Wadestone — on the basis that it would not be going to sea and would be working in the sheltered waters of the Solent.

Twenty days later, on 31st October 2011, the Wadestone sent a distress call to the UK Coastguard because it was taking on water.

According to a statement from the Coastguard, “the ship was about 34 nautical miles south-west of Portland Bill in the Casquet Traffic Separation Scheme, while en route to Malta.”

The Coastguard sent an RNLI crew out to rescue the Wadestone and its captain and they escorted the vessel safely back to port in Southampton.

Marine and Coastguard Agency surveyors inspected the ship on its arrival and found a number of serious deficiencies including hull cracking and corrosion and detained the ship for being dangerously unsafe.

Connor also admitted that the ship and its crew did not have proper documentation to operate the ship.

Following repairs, the Wadestone was released from detention and sold in August 2012.

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