Rowing boat owner sentenced after 21-year-old lost overboard

Following a case brought by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the owner and skipper of a vessel has received a 12-month suspended sentence
after a 21-year-old was lost overboard in the middle of the Atlantic.  

On 14 February, 2016, Michael Johnson, from Zimbabwe, was onboard the rowing boat Toby Wallace, as part of a world record attempt to cross the Atlantic Ocean in 32 days. 

Just after midnight on the 16th day (15 February) Mr Johnson was washed overboard. Despite the best efforts of the crew, Mr Johnson could not be saved. 

The Toby Wallace belonged to Simon Chalk, aged 51, of Astley Burf, Stourport-on-Severn, who has pleaded guilty to failing to take all reasonable measures to ensure the safe operation of his vessel. 

Following the lengthy and complex investigation conducted by the MCA, Chalk was charged under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 at Bristol Crown Court this week. 

The court heard that there was hardly any training for the crew of eight who took on the record challenge, there was no requirement to complete sea survival training, and there was minimal time to be acquainted with the Toby Wallace.  

The crew had not had a safety briefing on the vessel about her equipment, including personal floatation devices and beacons, the court heard. 

On 12 September, Chalk was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work and 10 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days. 

MCA Lead Investigator Jay Staff said: “At this time, the MCA is mindful of the family and friends of Michael Johnson, who have seen justice served in this tragic case. 

“The MCA will continue in its work to ensure everyone going out on the water is appropriately protected and knows what to do in an emergency, to avoid incidents of this nature in the future.”  


Popular posts from this blog

New website to boost maritime economy bringing business to UK

Five ships detained after inspection following concerns raised about crew welfare

Oral exams to be held online under plans from Maritime and Coastguard Agency