QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
Sitting with Captain Iain Gibb
Elder Brother of Trinity House
As Nautical Assessor
| The Owners and/or Demise Chartereres of the tug "Sea Tractor", her Master, Officers and Crew
|- and -
|The Owners of the Ship "Tramp"
Jeremy Russell QC (instructed by Winter Scott) for the Defendants
Hearing date: 8 December 2006
Crown Copyright ©
Mr Justice David Steel :
TRAMP. Yes we are going to try coming off Washer Wharf. Have advised to have a tug but we are going to try to come off Washer Wharf.
MEDWAY. Mike Aye Aye, you are going to try to come off Washer Wharf but did you say you have advised a tug was that correct?
TRAMP. That is correct, that is affirmative.
MEDWAY. All noted Michael.
TRAMP. Ok, thank you.
TRAMP Yes, good evening Michael we got her off the berth but we can't get her round so we're going to wait for a tug.
MEDWAY. Yes, have to go through Phil Harwood have been talking to him.
TRAMP. Yes he has been watching the orchestral manoeuvres and it is just a case of waiting for a tug. We have tried several times to get her round but no joy.
MEDWAY. Yes fine ok thank you, I will talk to Phil to get you a tug along.
TRAMP. Ok thank you.
a) The pilot would have been very conscious of his proximity to the bank. Given his readiness to criticise the decision to attempt departure without a tug, it seems wholly improbable that he would not make the point that he was already aground on the VHF record.
b) By the same token the manoeuvres undertaken by the pilot could only be categorised as bizarre if the vessel was up against the bank: -
i) Before the arrival of the tug she had been working her engines astern which would merely have forced the stern of the vessel further up the bank.
ii) After the arrival of the tug, she worked her engines ahead as her head was pulled to starboard pivoting the stern in way of the bank. This would have resulted in the risk of damage to both rudder and propeller if the stern had been in close proximity to the bank.
a) TRAMP could continue to work up and down Loden Hope off Long Point.
Despite the fact that TRAMP was not aground, it is clear that she was being brought progressively over to the western edge of the channel. She was in ballast. In the prevailing wind it was probable that she would have been unable to avoid coming into contact with the bank in due course.
b) The vessel could anchor in mid stream
Even if it were appropriate to anchor in the river from the perspective of other traffic, the proximity of the bank would have rendered swinging to an anchor hazardous particularly as the tide fell.
c) The vessel could re-berth at Washer Wharf
This would appear to be a difficult manoeuvre. TRAMP was well up the length of Long Point. Dropping back on an anchor onto an unfendered wharf would be a risky enterprise.
d) The vessel could put herself aground on the northern bank
Deliberate grounding would be a matter of last resort. Although the vessel was designed to take the ground at a safe berth, the area was studded with rubbish, stones and other materials. Any taking of the bottom would have been hazardous.
|SEA TRACTOR||.Lovely if you can give us a ship's rope please that would be handy.|
|TRAMP||Yes, we will bring it off the starboard bow.|
|SEA TRACTOR||Lovely jubbly.|
|SEA TRACTOR||Pilot can you hang on a minute, and I will try and catch up with you?|
|TRAMP||Yea, I'm just worried about going astern. I'm just coming astern all the time.|
|SEA TRACTOR||I'm going to have to come around and come back to you then.|
|SEA TRACTOR||I see you're going astern, you have run away from me I am going to have to come back to you.|
|TRAMP||Can you give her a kick ahead, a touch ahead?|
|SEA TRACTOR||If you just stay where you are, let me get the rope.|
|TRAMP||We're just starting the swing now.|
|SEA TRACTOR||Easy pilot, you are overtaking me."|