Jail for man who admitted causing Fife fatal ferry crash

Scottish Viking
Scottish Viking

The second officer, who admitted his actions were responsible for the death of a fisherman following a crash off Rosyth, has been sent to prison.

Pasquale Miccio pleaded guilty to a breach of section 58 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 as amended, on March 24, 2016 in the High Court of Justiciary, Glasgow.

It means he admitted his actions or omissions were responsible for the death of Daniel McNeil (16), who was a crew member of the fishing vessel Homeland in August 2010.

At the time Mr Miccio (49) was serving as second officer aboard the MV Scottish Viking, a ferry owned and operated by Visemar di Navigazone Srl. The ship was on a regular service between Rosyth and Zeebrugge in Belgium.

He was the navigating officer on August 5, 2010, when the Scottish Viking sailed from Rosyth at around 4.30pm.

At around 6.10pm, the lookout reported seeing fishing vessels ahead and to starboard and the second officer made a small alteration of course. The lookout continued to point out the proximity of the fishing vessels and at 6.35pm, a further slight alteration of course was made. Despite these warnings the second officer made no further alterations of course or speed.

Daniel McNeil was the brother of skipper Joseph McNeil and working during his holidays onboard the family fishing vessel Homeland.

They sailed from Eyemouth along with other vessels of the local fishing fleet at around 6pm. Joseph McNeil was working on the deck mending a net when, about thirty minutes later, he heard a warning blast from a nearby boat, the Achieve and heard the skipper calling to him on the VHF.

He went forward and looked out of his wheelhouse to see the Scottish Viking just seconds before it struck. He and his brother managed to clamber onto the wheelhouse roof but the boat went down very quickly. The Serene y Don – another local Fife boat – threw Joseph a life ring and pulled him to safety but Daniel could not be found.

In the High Court in Edinburgh today (Tuesday) the judge, his Lordship Lord Bannatyne said that the day had been a dreadful tragedy in that Daniel McNeil had lost his life and his family their son and brother.

“It is impossible to place a value on his life and it is not the purpose of this court to do so,” he added.

He told Mr Miccio that as the officer in charge of a large vessel, he was responsible for the failures and omissions and had failed to take actions that would have prevented the death of the young man.

Today, sentencing him to 12 months in prison, reduced to eight months, the judge said he had taken into account mitigation that there were other contributory factors to the incident and that Mr Miccio had no previous accidents.

Captain Bill Bennett, surveyor in charge, for the Maritime & Coastguard Agency said that the case highlighted the need to maintain a proper lookout. He added it also reinforced the need for every vessel to use all available means to determine if a risk of collision exists and to take early positive action to avoid that collision.