Crew and passengers suffered minor injuries after head-on collision with a wind turbine at 12 knots
The ship master of a wind farm support vessel has been ordered to pay £3,000 after colliding with a wind turbine on 21 November 2012.
Geoffrey Whinfrey, who was in charge of Island Panther before the crash at Sheringham Shoal wind farm, pleaded guilty to breaches of maritime collision regulations at Southampton Magistrates Court.
Just before the collision took place, the wind farm operator, Scira Offshore Energy Ltd, had asked Mr Whinfrey to take off-duty employees ashore due to worsening weather conditions.
It was dark and the wind was gusting up to 45mph, with driving rain and rough seas.
Despite having made no passage plans for the journey, Mr Whinfrey attempted to navigate through the wind farm using the safety lights on the wind turbine towers, which is against company policy.
While passing through the wind farm, he failed to notice that one of the turbine towers’ lights was not lit up and hit the tower head on at approximately 12 knots.
Mr Whinfrey and his fellow crewman were thrown forward, hitting the control consul, while passengers below were flung across the cabin.
Some of those on board had to be taken to hospital with minor injuries and the vessel was damaged considerably.
MCA Surveyor Captain Peter Maynard, said: “Mr Whinfrey relied heavily on the lights of the turbine towers to navigate through the wind farm against company policy.
“He displayed poor seamanship by failing to keep a proper lookout by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances. It was very lucky that no one was seriously hurt.”
An investigation into the collision found that the accident happened as Mr Whinfrey was relying solely on the turbine safety lights and didn’t make good use of the lookout and navigation equipment on board.
Mr Whinfrey pleased guilty to breaches of Rule 5 of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972.
He was fined £1,000, plus £2,000 in costs.