A marine pilot who caused a £1million crash which left a 40ft gaping hole in the hull of the ship he was steering was ‘disorientated’ when he looked through the wrong window, a court heard.
Gehan Sirimanne, 63, caused considerable damage to the car transporter ship when he ploughed it into the Primula Seaways ferry – after ignoring several warnings, according to maritime officers.
Sirimanne had accidentally set the City of Rotterdam ship’s route directly into the path of the oncoming ferry, Hull Crown Court heard.
He had looked through an off-axis window, which had caused him to suffer ‘relative motion illusion’.
Gehan Sirimanne (left), 63, was piloting a car transporter ship which ploughed into the Primula Seaways ferry. His captain, Ruslan Urumov (right), 64, believed the pilot’s intention was to pass the oncoming ship, the court was told. However, he failed to query Sirimanne’s actions until it was too late
Judge Jeremy Richardson, QC, said the weather was a factor in the December 2015 collision, adding, however, that the configuration and angles of the windows had played a key part.
Sirimanne, who was then working as a marine pilot for Associated British Ports, boarded the car carrier City of Rotterdam at Immingham Dock at 7pm.
He was due to navigate the Panama-registered ship along the River Humber to the mouth where full control was to be handed over to captain Ruslan Urumov, 64, to take the vessel to sea.
Humber Vessel Tracking Service (VTS) monitored the City of Rotterdam track which showed that she was straying into the north side of the shipping channel.
Her passage was also placed into the same track of vessels travelling west along the Humber, which included the Primula Seaways ship.
Despite alerts from VTS and the Primula Seaways captain, the City of Rotterdam continued its passage along the wrong side of the shipping lane.
A lack of communication between the transporter ship’s captain and pilot led to the crash near Spurn Point off the coast of the East Riding of Yorkshire, the judge also said.
No one was injured in the sea crash which occurred just metres from Spurn Point. Both vessels sustained major damage. Sirimanne and Urumov both pleaded guilty to misconduct by a pilot endangering a ship. Both received a four-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months
At the time of the crash, the ferry had been heading from Gothenburg, Sweden, while the car transporter, owned by Picer Marine SA, was heading for Newcastle.
Events before the crash were captured on a series of audio recordings.
Sirimanne, of Hull, East Yorkshire, believed he was travelling in the direction he was looking but was actually heading straight towards the Danish-registered ferry, owned by DFDS Seaways, AB.
Urumov believed the pilot’s intention was to pass the oncoming ship, the court was told.
However, he failed to query Sirimanne’s actions until it was too late.
No one was injured in the sea crash which occurred just metres from Spurn Point. Both vessels sustained major damage
Sirimanne and Urumov both pleaded guilty to misconduct by a pilot endangering a ship.
Both men received a four-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months.
Urumov was ordered to pay £750 in court costs due to the extremely low income he receives from his state pension in Bulgaria.
Sirimanne was ordered to pay £45,000 in court costs, which will be paid by his former employer Associated British Ports.
Michael Groark, a surveyor at Maritime and Coastguard’s Hull office, said: ‘This [crash] shows that the rules are there for a reason. It was a serious collision which could have resulted in serious injury.
‘Both of these men ignored several alerts warning them they were on the wrong track and put not only themselves but others using the channel correctly, at risk.’