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UK Fisherman Sentenced to 15 Months in Prison for Collision

Olvia jean
Olivia Jean's dredge beam and bags (MAIB)

Published Jun 1, 2021 9:13 PM by The Maritime Executive

On June 1, a British fisherman was sentenced to more than a year in jail for his role in a collision with a smaller fishing vessel. 

Craig Petre, 32, was sentenced at Hove Crown Court to 66 weeks in prison for violations resulting in a collision with a smaller vessel off the coast of Shoreham. The collision occurred on the morning of April 4, 2020 when Petre's 100-foot beam trawler Olivia Jean hit the 30-foot fishing vessel Peter Paul II. 

At the time of the collision, the Olivia Jean was traveling at about nine knots in conditions of restricted visibility. Her heavy steel beams were down at either side while she was under way, making her almost 100 feet wide. One of these beams hit the Peter Paul II, causing damage to the vessel. 

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s Regulatory Compliance Investigation Team launched an inquiry and summoned Petre for offenses under Section 58 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 (Conduct endangering ships, structures or individuals.) Petre pleaded guilty to the charge at a hearing at Lewes Crown Court on January 14.

At the time of the collision, Petre was already on a 48-week suspended sentence. At a sentencing hearing Tuesday, the judge added an 18-week sentence for the latest violation and reinstated the 48-week sentence from his prior offense, and the sentences will now run consecutively (for a total of 66 weeks in prison).  

"Petre failed to heed several important international safety regulations at the time of the collision. The Olivia Jean was traveling at an unsafe speed for the weather conditions and Petre failed to maintain a proper lookout for other vessels," said Mark Cam, the lead investigation officer for the UK MCA. "As a result, serious damage was caused to another vessel and the master of that vessel was also put at risk of serious injury or death."

The Olivia Jean is a repeat offender. In 2020, the UK MCA detained Olivia Jean and four other vessels owned by TN Trawlers Ltd. on charges of violating the UK's Merchant Shipping Act. The same company has been investigated many times for safety incidents, including a crewmember fatality in 2019, serious injuries in 2008, 2005 and 2000, and an allision with an anchored nuclear waste carrier in 1999.