A former ship's captain and a marine pilot have each been given a four month suspended jail sentence after they admitted causing a crash between a car transporter and a ferry on the River Humber

Both the City of Rotterdam car transporter and the ro-ro freight ferry, Primula Seaways, sustained major damage when the two vessels collided on the River Humber.

Gehan Sirimanne, marine pilot, now retired and Ruslan Uromov, former captain were recently sentenced at Hull Crown Court after pleading guilty to offences in connection with the incident in December 2015.

Uromov was charged with conduct endangering ships, structures or individuals, contrary to section 58(2) and (5) of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

Sirimanne was charged with misconduct by pilot endangering ship, contrary to section 21 of the Pilotage Act 1987.

They both pleaded guilty to these offences and were sentenced to four months, suspended for 18 months.

Sirimanne was ordered to pay £45,000 in costs and Uromov was £750 in costs.

Damage caused to a freight ferry on the River Humber

Damage to the Primula Seaways. Credit: MAIB Publications

The court heard that at 7pm on the 3 December 2015,  Sirimanne, who was then working as a marine pilot for Associated British Ports boarded the car carrier City of Rotterdam at Immingham Dock.

He was due to navigate the Panama-registered car carrier along the River Humber to the mouth of the river where full control was then to be handed over to the captain Ruslan Urumov to take the vessel to sea.

‘Storm Desmond’ had been forecast earlier in the day and strong winds were likely to affect that area bringing its own hazards to navigation that evening.

Humber Vessel Tracking Service (VTS) monitored the City of Rotterdam track which showed that she was straying into the north side of the shipping channel and into the Hawke Anchorage.

Her passage was also into the track of vessels travelling west along the Humber. The ro-ro freight ferry Primula Seaways was one of those vessels travelling inward along the channel.

Despite alerts from VTS and the captain of the Primula Seaways, the City of Rotterdam continued its passage along the wrong side of the shipping lane. This resulted in a head-on collision.

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Although no injuries were reported, both vessels sustained major damage to their bows.

In passing sentence, Judge HHJ Richardson said this represented the destruction of their professional reputation as professional mariners which had been eradicated by this criminal act.

Speaking following sentencing, the surveyor in charge for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s Hull office, Michael Groark, said the case show that “rules are there for a reason”.

“It was a serious collision which could have resulted in serious injury. Both of these men ignored several alerts warning them they were on the wrong track and put not only themselves but others using the channel correctly, at risk,” he said.