The Dutch Public Prosecution Service (OM) is prosecuting the captains of the fast ferry Tiger and water taxi Stormloper for their part in a collision with fatal outcome on 21 October 2022 in the Schuitengat on the Wadden Sea. According to the OM, both sailed too fast at the time of the collision.
The men prosecuted are a 33-year-old man from the municipality of Harlingen and a 47-year-old man from the municipality of Terschelling.
Four people were killed in the accident, of whom a 12-year-old boy is still missing. Several people, including one of the boatmen, were also (seriously) injured.
Too fast and insufficient communication
Based on multiple statements, recordings of the marine radio traffic, the boats’ GPS locations and radar data, prosecutors concluded that both sailed too fast at the time of the collision. The channel in which the accident occurred, the Schuitengat, is not the designated ferry route. The maximum speed there is 20 km/hour. The (fast) ferry had a speed of 55 km/h, the water taxi was travelling at 28 km/h.
According to the prosecution, there was also insufficient communication and unclear agreements on how to pass each other. In addition, just before the collision, the skipper of the water taxi made an incomprehensible and unsafe steering movement. In the end, this left the skipper of the ferry with no choice but to pass over the water taxi.
Both men are charged with wrongful death and inflicting grievous bodily harm through negligence. Both men are also being prosecuted for being guilty of sinking another boat, resulting in danger to life or death.
The OM decided to dismiss the case against the “co-captain” of the ferry. He was initially classified as a suspect, but he had no influence on sailing the vessel.
It is not yet known when the court in Leeuwarden will hear the case.
Picture: Rederij Doeksen’s Tiger (by Roel Hemkes/Wikimedia).