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Fine and costs for rogue vessel

The skipper and owner of a day angling vessel has been fined for travelling the wrong way along a shipping lane in the Dover Strait.

Simon Hughes (64), of Marden in Kent, has been ordered to pay a fine of £1,730, a victim surcharge of £173, and prosecution costs of £25,000 after appearing at Maidstone Magistrates Court.

The case was brought by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) after Hughes’ vessel, Reel Fun 2, was observed by HM Coastguard’s Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Dover to be heading the wrong way along the south-west Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) on several occasions on 14 September 2022.

The vessel’s actions prompted HM Coastguard officers at the MRCC to try to make contact by radio broadcasts, without response.

Large ships may have difficulty in seeing small vessels using the TSS

A rogue vessel warning was broadcast to shipping using the TSS however contact was only made with Reel Fun 2 after the intervention of a Royal Navy ship.

“Large ships may have difficulty in seeing small vessels using the TSS,” explained MCA Investigator Mark Flavell.

“Failing to comply with the rules may cause confusion on the bridge of large ships resulting in alteration of speed and course.”

He added: “This can have a knock-on effect for other large ships creating an unnecessary hazard to shipping.”

Around 400 commercial vessels use the Dover Strait daily. The TSS separates ships into two lanes for inward and outward-bound traffic.

Hughes has previously been convicted at a trial at Maidstone Magistrates Court of breaking rule 10 of the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972, contrary to regulation 4 and 6 of the Merchant Shipping (Distress Signals and Prevention of Collisions) Regulations 1996 (SI 1996/75) (as amended).

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