HONG KONG: Guilty verdicts on four seafarers

Edited from SAFETY AT SEA INTERNATIONAL (14 Jan 2010)
Two masters, one from of a Ukrainian tugboat and the other from a Chinese bulk carrier, were found guilty of endangering  the safety of people at sea, along with two local Hong Kong pilots that were helping the Chinese carrier navigate a narrow channel at the time of a collision off the coast of Hong Kong two years ago, killing 18 seafarers from the Ukrainian tug .

The four defendants, Captain of the Neftegaz-67, Yuriy Kulemesin, 45, Liu Bo, captain of the Yaohai, 37, and pilots Tang Dock-wah, 61, and Bruce Chun Wak-tak had pleaded not guilty. The four now face up to four years in jail.

Delivering her verdict in the District Court, Judge Susana D’Almada Remedios said crew on board both vessel should have seen that they were heading towards each other had they looked at their radar devices. The judge added, although there was plenty of time to avert disaster, Kulemesin did not take action to avoid the collision until about 45 seconds before it occurred.

The court heard that despite multiple warnings from the Hong Kong Marine Department, both vessels stayed on a course towards each other. Tang, on board the Yaotai told the court he thought his vessel would pass the Neftegaz for a port-to-port passing. By the time he ordered a hard-to-starboard turn it was too late.

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