British sailor pleads guilty to manslaughter charge following collision that killed two off Danish coast

Photo: Karin Høj (Photo: aus Holtenau)

A court in Denmark’s capital city has sentenced a British national to 18 months’ imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with a deadly collision incident in the Baltic Sea late last year.

The 30-year-old first officer of the UK-flagged dry cargo vessel Scot Carrier confessed his involvement in his ship’s collision with the Danish-registered hopper barge Karin Høj in the waters between Sweden and Denmark at around 03:30 local time on December 13, 2021. The collision caused the barge to capsize, which then led to the deaths of both of its crew.

One victim was located within the barge’s hull as salvors were inspecting the interior. The body of the second crewman was never found despite an extensive search of the surrounding waters by Swedish and Danish maritime rescue teams.

Scot Carrier‘s first officer admitted to prosecutors in Copenhagen that he had consumed alcohol just minutes prior to assuming duty as the helmsman on the day of the incident.

The suspect added that he remained on the bridge up to the time of the collision as he believed he was still able to safely navigate the ship despite his intoxicated state.

Court records show that the suspect was also in the middle of a telephone call using a mobile app when he suddenly saw a white light to starboard, indicating the approach of the hopper barge. An attempt to reverse the cargo ship’s engines proved unsuccessful, making the collision inevitable.

Swedish Coastguard personnel who deployed to the scene shortly after the collision discovered that Scot Carrier‘s first officer had a blood alcohol level of 1.15, which was well above the Danish and Swedish legal limits.

The suspect, who claims he is “ashamed” of his actions, has also been ordered to pay the equivalent of US$7,000 in fines as well as restitution to the families of the two deceased Danish sailors. He is also indefinitely prohibited from operating a ship in Danish waters.

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