Fine for company and master after incident at Inverness

The owners and the master of a cruise ship involved a in serious accident which cost a crew member her leg have been handed out fines totalling £8,000 today

Jacobite Cruises Limited admitted charges brought under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 after Aurelia Thabert lost her leg in the incident in June 2012.

The master Andrew Paul Lach (47) pleaded guilty to a charge brought under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

On 20th June 2012, the Loch Ness cruise ship Jacobite Queen was returning to her berth at Tomnahurich Bridge, Inverness when the incident happened in Dochgarroch Locks.

Aurelia Thabert, then aged 25, was working as a crew member onboard the Jacobite Queen. She was attempting to release a rope from the side of the lock when her right foot became entangled in a bight of the rope.

The ship moved forward tightening the rope around her leg. Ms Thabert was treated at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness where because of the damage caused to her leg, an amputation had to be carried out.

In the Sheriff Court of Grampian Highland and Islands today (27th October), Andrew Paul Lach pleaded guilty to omitting to ensure all mooring ropes had been removed from the hooks at the side of Dochgarroch Locks, before putting the engines ahead. This was in breach of section 58 (2)(b)(ii) of the Merchant Shipping Act as amended.

The company Jacobite Cruises Ltd pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employee and failing to make sure there was an appropriate means of communication available between the master and crew while mooring ropes were being handled. This is contrary to Section 2 (1) and section 33 (1) (a) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

Jacobite Cruises Limited was fined £6,000, reduced from £9,000 for a guilty plea. Andrew Paul Lach was fined £2,000, reduced from £3,000 for a guilty plea.

Area operations manager for the Maritime & Coastguard Agency Captain Bill Bennett said: ‘Basic seamanship says that if the master doesn’t have a clear line of sight to the aft mooring rope ashore, they should not attempt to put the engine ahead before getting the all clear.

‘The investigation clearly showed that although the company provided UHF handheld walkie-talkie radios aboard the vessel, these were not working on the day in question. This potentially impacted the ability of the master and crew to communicate clearly with one another.’

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