Cruise Operator Fined for Linehandling Accident

The Jacobite Queen approaching the locks (undated file photo courtesy Jacobite Cruises)

By The Maritime Executive 2016-10-27 19:39:50

This week, Jacobite Cruises of Loch Ness, Scotland pled guilty to health and safety violations and was fined $7000 in connection with an accident that led to the amputation of a deckhand's leg. 

The casualty occurred June 20, 2012, as the cruise ship Jacobite Queen was transiting Loch Ness' Dochgarroch Locks. Crewmember Aurelia Thabert, 25, was attempting to detach her vessel's stern line from the wall of the lock when ship's master Andrew Lach put propulsion ahead. Thabert was in the bight of the line, which tightened around her ankle as the Queen moved forward.

The vessel exerted enough force on the line that it parted, and Thabert suffered a "degloving injury," a medical term for the extensive removal of skin and underlying tissue from the muscle below.

The damage was so severe that surgeons eventually opted to amputate her leg. Thabert is now able to walk with the aid of a prosthetic, but only for limited periods, prosecutors said. Despite the injury, she continued to work for Jacobite Cruises in a different role for several years after the accident.

Prosecutors argued that the master had acted negligently by failing to ensure that all lines were clear before moving ahead; unreliable UHF walkie-talkies were a complicating factor. The area operations manager for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Captain Bill Bennett, told BBC that the vessel's walkie-talkies had not been working on the day of the accident. 

Lach left Jacobite Cruises in 2014 and does not intend to return to work on the water, his counsel told the court. Like his former employer, he pled guilty, and he was fined about $2,400.