Jail for ship captain over collision that killed 6

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 July, 2014, 3:14am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 July, 2014, 3:45am

A cargo ship captain was sentenced to 16 months in jail yesterday for his involvement in a collision which caused six deaths off the shores of Stanley.

Ruan Cuncai's cargo ship, Wang Da 6, rammed into another cargo vessel amid fog on April 18. While all 14 crew on Wang Da 6 were rescued, six of the other vessel's 11 crew drowned.

Ruan, who had failed to sound a fog signal or adequately reduce his speed of 11 knots before the crash, admitted one count of endangering others' safety at sea.

Delivering the sentence, district court judge Johnny Chan Jong-herng said: "[The defendant] owed it to his crew to operate the vessel in a safe manner."

Two experts had told the court Ruan was in breach of the International Regulations For Preventing Collisions at Sea.

Under the regulations, vessels are required to turn to starboard to avoid head-on collisions. But Ruan had been indecisive and had even attempted to steer to port minutes before the collision, the judge noted. The fog was not a good excuse as the vessel was equipped with radar, the judge added. "The collision would have been avoided if the defendant complied with the rule [by changing course or reducing his speed]," Chan said.

Ruan has been in custody for 14 months. He is required to serve the remainder of the sentence.