Skipper fined over Clyde fishing boat sinking

The MCA carried out an investigation into the collision between the Saphire Stone and the Karen to the south-east of Arran in January 2014.
The MCA carried out an investigation into the collision between the Saphire Stone and the Karen to the south-east of Arran in January 2014.

A fishing boat skipper who pleaded guilty to charges including failing to keep a proper look out has been fined more than £5,000.

Malcolm Edmund, the skipper of the fishing vessel Saphire Stone, was charged following a collision with another fishing vessel, Karen, in the Firth of Clyde last year, causing its loss.

On January 22, 2014, the Karen was coming to the end of a four hour tow to the south-east of Arran when she was struck astern by the Saphire Stone.

Saphire Stone had just brought its final haul for the day aboard and was bound for Campbeltown for the night.

John Muir, skipper of the Karen, said she went down by the stern so quickly that the crew did not have time to get their lifejackets from the cabin.

The crew managed to launch the life raft but in the choppy seas it overturned and all three found themselves in the water. Mr Muir managed to right the raft and they all got in.

Meanwhile, the Saphire Stone had managed to get alongside the life raft and recovered all the men safely onboard. She then continued to Campbeltown where they were met by the emergency services.

During an investigation by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, it transpired that one of the crew employed onboard the Saphire Stone had not completed the required safety training courses and that Mr Edmund had been issued with an improvement notice the previous September for a similar offence.

Mr Edmund pleaded guilty at Newtonards Magistrates Court on Monday to three charges - failing to keep a proper lookout, causing the loss of the fishing vessel Karen and breaching the Fishing Vessel Safety Training Regulations.

The judge, his worship Mr Mark Hamil, said that the case came down to Mr Edmund not looking where he was going.

He fined him a total of £5,500.

Captain Bill Bennett, Surveyor in Charge of the Belfast Marine Office said: “This very serious accident caused the loss of a vessel. It could very easily have resulted in loss of life. Skippers are reminded of the need to keep a lookout at all times.”