Renfrew ferry firm escape action over flood drama

The Renfrew Ferry which was  swamped June 2011. Picture: submitted
The Renfrew Ferry which was swamped June 2011. Picture: submitted
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A FERRY operator has escaped prosecution after one of its vessels flooded when its bow ramp was left open as it crossed the River Clyde, The Scotsman has learned.

The potential disaster happened as the Clydelink-operated Renfrew ferry was crossing the river between Renfrew and Yoker in Glasgow with its bow access door ramp open.

Those on board were forced to scramble to the far end of the boat or jump on to seats after it started taking in water.

The incident, which involved the Island Trader on a Sunday afternoon service in June 2011, is reported to have led to the ferry’s skipper switching off the engines and activating its pumps.

But the case has now been closed by prosecutors despite a report into the incident being sent to the procurator fiscal by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

The decision by the Crown Office last night angered one of the passengers, who feared the vessel would sink. John Carberry, who was among an eight-strong family group returning on the ferry from a Christening ceremony, said a prosecution should have gone ahead.

Mr Carberry, 54, an insulation engineer, said the ferry had reversed across the river with its ramp down, then stopped in mid-stream for the skipper to collect fares, when the vessel turned round and start taking in water.

He said: “Someone should have been held accountable and reprimanded for it. They must have known what they were doing was wrong. Everyone’s clothes were ruined, including several pairs of brand new shoes.

“I told people to get to the back of the boat. I thought it was going down.”

The Crown Office said a report had been submitted to the procurator fiscal in Paisley “concerning a 37-year-old male and a limited company, in connection with a number of alleged incidents said to have occurred in June 2011”.

A Clydelink spokesman said: “After full and careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of the case, the procurator fiscal instructed that there should be no proceedings and the case is now closed.”

Clydelink took over the crossing three years ago. The firm uses far smaller craft than the previous ferries, which were operated by Strathclyde Partnership for Transport.

A spokesman for Clydelink said: “Although we have yet to receive official confirmation, we are pleased to hear that no action will be taken.

“Our safety record is of paramount importance to us.”

An MCA spokesman said: “We submitted a report after investigation, for consideration for prosecution, to the procurator fiscal.

“The Maritime and Coastguard Agency have received notification that the case is not to proceed.”