Peterhead man fined over boat death

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The Peterhead owner of a fishing vessel has been fined £20,000 after a man died from inhaling dangerous fumes aboard his boat.

James Strachan Thores was today fined after engineer Artis Sterkis died on Thores’ MFV Starlight Rays PD230on August 25 2011 the Maritime & Coastguard Agency has confirmed.

Thores, who was also skipper of the vessel, had instructed to pump out the bow thrust space - a small compartment accessed by a hatch.

The pumping system on board the boat was broken so Sterkis and another crewman used a petrol-driven fire pump to try an complete the job.

Captain Bill Bennett, area manager, survey and inspection said: “The dangers of using of a petrol engine in a confined space are well known.

“The vessel was provided with two primary pumping systems either of which could have and should have been operational.”

The crewman that was helpin Mr Sterkis felt unwell and left the hold where the pumping was been done.

Upon his return he found Mr Sterkis unconscious.

A rescue helicopter was dispatched and airlifted Mr Sterkis and the crewman to hospital, but Mr Sterkis sadly died.

Captain Bennet said: “There should have been no reason to use the petrol pump which was onboard as an emergency fire pump, not as a salvage pump.”

Mr Thores pleaded guilty at a hearing on October 12 to a charge under Regulation 5 of the Merchant Shipping and Fishing Vessels (Health & Safety at Work) Regulations 1997.

Sentence was deferred to today.

The judge, Sheriff Olga Pasportnikov, said if Mr Thores had followed previous recommendations from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, then this accident would not have occurred.