Criminal charges over deaths of three crewmen on tug Flying Phantom

The port authority and the owner of a tug boat that capsized killing three people on the River Clyde are facing criminal charges over the incident.

Three of four crew members died when the Flying Phantom sank during a routine operation on the water on December 19, 2007.

On Monday, the Crown Office confirmed port authority Clydeport and boat owner Svitzer Marine are to be indicted for a trial at the High Court.

Both companies face charges under health and safety legislation after the deaths of three men on the Greenock-based tug boat.

Stephen Humphreys, Robert Cameron and Eric Blackley died in the disaster, while a fatal accident inquiry into the incident has never taken place.

A Marine Accident Investigation Board investigation criticised boat owner Svitzer and river authority Clydeport over the deaths.

It found the boat capsized during thick fog and "port risk assessment was poor" as to the dangers The Flying Phantom faced while towing bulk carrier Red Jasmine up the Clyde.

A Crown Office spokesman said: "Crown Counsel have instructed that two companies be indicted for trial in the High Court. Clydeport Operations Limited and Svitzer Marine Limited are to face charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 in relation to events surrounding an incident on the River Clyde on 19 December 2007 involving the Greenock based tug boat, The Flying Phantom.

"The families of the three crew who lost their lives have been updated in relation to this development."

A spokesman for Svitzer said: "Svitzer notes the position of the Crown in relation to the tragic accident that occurred on December 19, 2007 when three Svitzer crew lost their lives on the tug Flying Phantom.

"Svitzer has fully co-operated with the investigations conducted by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and the Crown over the five-year period since the accident took place. Svitzer lost three of its much-valued seafarers that day and the effects are still felt across the company.

"Our thoughts then and now, however, remain with the family members of those lost and our deepest condolences stay with them today as they did following the accident."

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