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From the Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Press Notice No: 294/07
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Posted 16:58 GMT
OVERLOADED FERRY LANDS OWNER IN COURT
At a hearing today at Dartford Magistrates, the Lower Thames and Medway Passenger Boat Company Limited were fined a total of £18,000 plus £9,000 costs for allowing their vessel to carry more passenger than was allowed for by the vessels certification.
The Duchess M is a vessel which operates the Gravesend to Tilbury ferry service. On the evening of the 30th August 2006 the Duchess M was due to commence a voyage from Gravesend to Tilbury. The Port of London Authority (PLA) at Gravesend received a phone call stating that the Duchess M was carrying 90 passengers. On departing Gravesend terminal the Duchess M reported to PLA Gravesend that it was carrying 62 passengers. Observations using CCTV and crew on a nearby PLA launch confirmed that the Duchess M was carrying persons onboard well in excess of the permitted level of 60 passengers plus 2 or 3 crew. Estimates of the number carried as between 90 and 110. The matter was reported to the MCA who started an investigation into the incident which has led to this prosecution.
The owner of the ferry Duchess M pleaded guilty to one offence under the Merchant Shipping (Survey and Certification) Regulations 1995 for allowing the vessel to proceed on a voyage with a greater number of passengers onboard than that stated on the ships Passenger Certificate. The Lower Thames and Medway Passenger Boat Company Limited were fined £18,000. Costs of £9,000 were also awarded against the company.
In passing sentence the Magistrates made clear that they considered it a very serious offence.
Bryan Hopkins, Area Operations Manager with responsibility for the River Thames at the MCA, said
Carrying more passengers onboard than is allowed by the vessels certification is dangerous as the vessels lifesaving equipment, construction and stability may not be sufficient for the numbers onboard. Also the reporting of 62 passengers to PLA Gravesend could have had serious consequences. The limits set out in the ships certification is there for the protection of the public and seafarer.
The MCA would like to thank the PLA for their help and assistance in this case.