Criminal charges over tug tragedy welcome, but laws ne...

Criminal charges over tug tragedy welcome, but laws need to be strengthened

22 April 2013

Unite has welcomed today’s (22 April 2013) development that Clydeport Operations and Svitzer Marine will face criminal charges at the high court over the sinking of the Flying Phantom tug in 2007. 

The Flying Phantom sunk while assisting a bulk carrier in thick fog on the Clyde. Three of the tug’s four-man crew perished; only the mate managed to escape from the vessel’s wheelhouse and was later rescued.  

In September 2008, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) released a report into the sinking of the tug and identified a number of preventable safety issues which contributed towards to the deaths of the crew members

Relatives have long-campaigned for justice over the events which led to the deaths of their loved ones, including a Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI). 

Unite Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty said: “We hope today represents the first steps on the road to justice for the families devastated by the deaths of their loved ones.

Unite is demanding answers and accountability on the following issues:

  • Who are the individuals in each company responsible for the safety failures which led to the deaths of these workers? 
  • Why could the recommendations of the MAIB not be legally enforced?
  • Why has it taken over five painful years to get to this starting point? 

Mr Rafferty continued: "Today’s events take place against a wider backdrop of increasing workplace fatalities across Scotland and funding for safety enforcement is being gutted by the Westminster government - it’s unacceptable. 

"Lives in the workplace must be better protected. The case of the Flying Phantom and rising workplace fatalities show we need stronger legislation to achieve this."  


For further information please contact Peter Welsh, Unite Scotland Communications, on 07810 157 931. 

Notes to Editors:  

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.