Clydeport fined over 2007 fatal tug boat accident

The Flying Phantom is refloated on the River Clyde.
The Flying Phantom is refloated on the River Clyde.

Port operator Clydeport has been fined £650,000 for health and safety failures following the 2007 disaster when a Coldingham man was the only survivor of the four man crew of a tug boat that sank in the River Clyde.

Stephen Humphreys, 33, Eric Blackley, 57, and Robert Cameron, 65, were crew on the Flying Phantom, which capsized in thick fog on 19 December 2007.

Brian Aitchison, 37, from Coldingham, was managed to escape from the vessel’s wheelhouse and was the only crew member to be pulled from the water alive.

Tugboat owner Svitzer Marine had already been fined £1.7 million after it admitted failures and

Andrew Henderson, of Thompsons Solicitors who represented the families of the men who lost their lives, said: “Now that this prosecution is at an end the Crown Office must, without delay, begin a fatal accident inquiry into the Flying Phantom’s sinking.”

“This is the only way we can learn lessons from this awful accident to make sure something like this never happens again.”

A Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) inquiry concluded that the tug’s towing winch had not released quickly enough, which meant it was capsized by the vessel it was pulling.

The report also highlighted failings in procedure to ensure the tug operated safely in foggy weather.

Imposing the fine on Clydeport, Judge Lord Kinclaven said: “I appreciate there is nothing that I can do or say in this court that can compensate for the tragic deaths of the late Stephen Humphreys, Robert Cameron and Eric Blackley - or for the ordeal suffered by Brian Aitchison.”