Year in prison for Master in Belfast collision with Stena ferry

JUNE 1, 2012 — The master of a Cook Islands registered, 2,376 dwt general cargo ship that collided with an inbound Stena ferry headed for Belfast is to serve one year in prison on alcohol related charges.

Britain's Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA)  reports: On  March 7, 2012, Miroslaw Pozniak, the master of the merchant ship Union Moon, was outbound from the port of Belfast when he collided with the inbound ferry Stena Feronia

There were 51 passengers and 47 crew onboard the ferry and six people onboard the cargo ship. No one was injured in the collision, however there was substantial damage to both ships.

The two ships were approaching the fairway buoy which marks the beginning of the main channel into Belfast harbor. As the Union Moon passed the Fairway Buoy, she should have altered course to starboard on to an easterly heading, but unexpectedly altered course to port in to the port side of the approaching ferry.

Captain Pozniak pleaded guilty at court in Newtonards on the March 12, 2012 to breaches of the Railways and Transport Act 2003 by being four times over the alcohol limit. At a later hearing he was also charged with failing to keep a proper lookout and to causing serious damage to his own ship and to the Stena Feronia.

Sentencing Mr. Pozniac at Downpatrick Crown Court yesterday the Judge said:

"I believe that any sentence cannot be suspended. This sentence makes it clear that the following of the regulations, both in relation to alcohol and also in relation to the charting and proper adherence to accepted routes, is of vital importance. The ending of your 30 year career and this sentence effectively demonstrate that."

The Master was given a custodial sentence of 12 months on each of the three counts to run concurrently.

Captain Bill Bennett, Area Operations Manager (Survey and Inspection) for the MCA said;
"This was a very serious accident. It could so easily have been a dreadful tragedy but fortunately there were no injuries or fatalities. It is a matter of concern to the MCA that misuse of alcohol continues to play a part in a number of maritime accidents."