Sunday, 27 Sep 2020

Royal Navy warship nearly hit small boat after officer closed curtains

Royal Navy 4,000-ton warship nearly crashed into fishing boat because officer on look-out couldn’t see where she was going after she closed the curtains

  • Lt Rebecca Stanley was night shift look-out on type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland
  • She shut a ‘blackout curtain’ so she could get on with work due the next day
  • 4,000 tonne warship came within 600 yards of Dutch fishing boat in North Sea
  • Bulford Military Court ordered she pay £4,000 fine and be severely reprimanded

A Royal Navy warship nearly crashed into a fishing boat – after Lt Rebecca Stanley shut her look-out curtains and couldn’t see where she was going

A Royal Navy warship nearly crashed into a fishing boat – after the officer on look-out closed the curtains and couldn’t see where she was going.

Lieutenant Rebecca Stanley shut a ‘blackout curtain’ so she could get on with other work during the night shift on type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland, a court martial heard.

Lt Stanley even told a surprised colleague on the ship’s bridge that if anyone asked ‘she wasn’t behind the curtain’.

The court heard that as she couldn’t see outside, the frigate was being operated by an officer who could not keep a visual look out and had ‘an extremely limited picture’ of where other vessels were.

As a result, the 4,000 tonne warship came within just 600 yards of a 36 metre-long Dutch fishing boat in the North Sea, which had to change direction at the last minute.

Bulford Military Court in Wiltshire heard Lt Stanley, 31, had been asked to plan the pilotage for a boat transfer in Portland, Dorset that was due to take place the next day.

However, due to a delay the ship’s arrival off the south coast was pushed back by almost 24 hours.

Unaware of this, the ‘anxious’ officer decided to do her planning for the manoeuvre, which she had never done before, during her night time watch, from around 1am to 4am.

As a result, the 4,000 tonne warship came within just 600 yards of a 36 metre-long Dutch fishing boat in the North Sea, which had to change direction at the last minute

Prosecuting, Lieutenant Solomon Hartley told the court Lt Stanley’s poor judgement led to a ‘near miss’ with the Jan Cornelis fishing vessel as they headed towards the Dover Strait.

He said: ‘She conducted the planning during her period as officer of the watch – this was not necessary or sensible. She closed a blackout curtain while conducting her task…

‘She thought she had it all under control. She didn’t have things under control and had things turned out differently she could have collided with the Jan Cornelis.’

Although she was able to view a radar screen, the court heard Lt Stanley had ‘an extremely limited picture’ of where other vessels were around her.

Bulford Military Court in Wiltshire heard Lt Stanley, 31, had been asked to plan the pilotage for a boat transfer in Portland, Dorset that was due to take place the next day

At one point another sailor asked her what she was doing behind the curtain.. She explained she was planning for the transfer and said if anyone asked ‘she wasn’t behind the curtain’.

Lt Hartley told the hearing ‘fishing vessels’ can be extremely ‘erratic’ and for that reason greater care is required when sailing near them.

During the middle of Lt Stanley’s watch she noticed the Jan Cornelis was around 1400 yards away and reported this to her navigator before returning behind the curtain.

A short while later she noticed the ship’s lights just 600 yards away and was ‘shocked’ by how close the vessel was.

Lt Stanley was ordered to pay a fine of £4,000 and told her she would also be severely reprimanded

Mitigating, Commander Kay Chadwick, said Lt Stanley had told colleagues on the bridge she was ‘nipping behind the curtain to do some work’ but had not been ‘sleeping or using her phone’.

Lieutenant Stanley, who admitted a charge of ‘negligently hazarding a ship’, told the court martial: ‘It was wrong and foolish of me to put the ship in that situation* I let myself and the ship’s company down.

‘Words cannot justify how sorry I am for the damage I almost caused.’

Sentencing her, Assistant Judge Advocate Alan Large, said: ‘You shut yourself away at the back of the bridge. You shut the blackout curtain behind you and carried on with your planning.

‘The most important thing is you weren’t able to keep a visual look out – your bridge team had to prompt you about fishing vessels.’

He ordered Lt Stanley to pay a fine of £4,000 and told her she would also be severely reprimanded. 

Source: Read Full Article

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