Dredger Chief Mate Sentenced for Fatal Collision with Sailing Yacht Near Felixstowe

MV Shoreway file photo (c) Marinetraffic.com/
MV Shoreway file photo (c) Marinetraffic.com/Jurgen Franssen

The chief mate of a dredger has received a six month suspended sentence after his vessel collided with a yacht near Felixstowe, England, killing a woman and a dog.

The chief mate, Gerardus Chapel, was handed a sentence of nine months in jail, which was reduced to six and has been suspended for 18 months, after pleading guilty to conduct endangering ships, structures or individuals under section 58 Merchant Shipping act 1995.

Chapel was at the helm of the 5,000 tonne dredger MV Shoreway when it collided with the sailing yacht “Orca” on June 8, 2014 at the entrance to the River Orwell in Suffolk county. According to the UK Maritime and Coast Guard Agency, the dredger had just finished dredging in Felixstowe and was headed out to sea to dump the waste when for an unknown reason it left the deepwater channel into an area frequented by pleasure craft. The dredger struck the the 31-foot SY Orca on its starboard side, causing it to sink almost immediately. Aboard the yacht were a husband and wife, Peter and Bernadine Ingram, and their two dogs. The man and one dog managed to surface, but the woman and the second dog got caught in the wreckage. The woman’s body and the dog were recovered the following day by divers.

When interviewed by MCA Enforcement Officers, Chapel, who had been a qualified Captain for several years according to the MCA, admitted that he just did not see the yacht, even though it was clearly visible and on radar.

In handing down the sentence, the Judge said that “Chapel accepted responsibility, co-operated and pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity. However, his failure to keep a proper watch caused Mrs. Ingram’s death.”

Captain Roger Towner, Assistant Director from the MCA’s Maritime Safety & Standards branch, said that it was clearly evident that Chapel had failed to keep a proper lookout by all available means, which resulted in this tragic incident.

The 98-meter MV Shoreway is owned by Koninklijke Boskalis Westminster NV.