The Union Moon cargo ship in front of the much larger Stena Feronia. Photo via Belfast Telegraph

Investigators in the UK have confirmed what everyone already knew about the March 7th collision between the M/V Union Moon and the Stena Feronia ferry: that the captain of the Union Moon was drunk and had altered into a collision course with the ferry.

The collision occurred near the mouth of Belfast Lough in northeast Ireland at about 7:45 pm between the 1,543 gross ton cargo ship and the 21,856 gross ton passenger ferry. The Stena Feronia escaped with relatively minor damage above the water line and a bit of a scare for the 51 passengers that were inbound from Liverpool to Belfast. The M/V Union Moon, on the other hand, did not fare so well. Not only did the vessel sustain extensive damage in the collision, but the captain was arrested after authorities found him to be drunk at the time. No injuries were reported.

The results of the investigation released today determined that although the Union Moon’s master had been under the influence of alcohol and had altered course to port resulting in a collision course with Stena Feronia, several other factors also contributed to the accident. The report also identified a lack of clear guidance regarding traffic flow around the fairway buoy; no action taken by the bridge teams of either vessel to prevent a closequarters situation from developing; no action was taken on board Stena Feronia to avoid collision; and sub-standard VHF communications.

The captain of the Union Moon plead guilty to charges relating to the breaching the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 and was sentenced to 1 year imprisonment.

Here’s a look at what the RNLI lifeboats found when the arrived on scene:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QNdhOq-WjY[/youtube]
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