Plea of guilty for vessel transitting the sunk
On Thursday 23 September at Folkestone Magistrates Court, Th. Jacobsen Management AS of Norway, former managers of the MV Sarah pleaded guilty to the vessel transitting the Sunk Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) against the regular traffic flow. They also pleaded guilty to not providing the vessel with up to date charts as the vessel was found to have old charts that did not even show the Sunk TSS system. They also pleaded guilty to failing to keep proper records of rest, in that the ships master fraudulently kept false records of his rest periods.
On the 21 October 2008, the Sarah was detected by CNIS radar heading south in the north bound lane of the Sunk TSS and having hazardous incidents with two north bound vessels. At the port of Shoreham the Norwegian vessel Sarah was boarded by MCA officers and was found to be using out of date charts. It was also found that the Master was regularly recording periods of rest when he was actually on watch.
Fining the company 6000 and 2500 costs, the Court said that these were serious offences but took into consideration an early plea of guilty by the accused and to impose a higher fine would put the company in financial difficulty and with a risk to persons losing their jobs.
David Lee of the MCA Enforcement Unit said:
It is vital that a ship is equipped with current and properly corrected charts and navigation systems. The ship sailed through a busy area and pilot boarding station completely unaware that a well established TSS existed. This combined with fatigue can lead to disaster.