Lower Thames & Medway Passenger Boat Co. Ltd (LTMPB) and its sole director John Robert Potter of Tonbridge in Kent has been fined a total of £8,000 with another £8,000 costs after pleading guilty to operating an unsafe vessel. Duchess M was a small passenger vessel that was used to operate the Gravesend-to-Tilbury ferry service. On September 29th 2016 the vessel was on a routine trip from Tilbury Landing Stage to Gravesend. As she was approaching Gravesend the main engine cut out without warning. There was a minor collision with another vessel. The vessel anchored as a precaution.
Following this incident, Duchess M was inspected by an official from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and was detained as a result of deficiencies. After further inspections on November 21st 2016 and January 6th 2017 the Duchess M was eventually released from detention.
Following an investigation by the MCA’s Enforcement Unit, the decision was made to prosecute Mr Potter and the company.
Mr Potter pleaded guilty to the unsafe operation of a vessel and was fined a total of £3,000. The Lower Thames & Medway Passenger Boat Co. Ltd (LTMPB) also pleaded guilty to the unsafe operation of a vessel and was fined a total of £5,000, with £8,017.13 costs.
Bromley magistrates said on April 5th that the safety of vessels in public use was a very important issue.
Mike Greenwood, Technical Manager for the Thames area with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency said that it was “also of great concern to the MCA that deficiencies from a previous inspection had been reported to MCA as corrected, but the more recent inspection showed, in fact, that this was not the case.”