RTÉ voices concerns on Cabin Fever report

Friday 25 March 2005 15.14
'Cabin Fever' sinking - Investigation report out
'Cabin Fever' sinking - Investigation report out

RTÉ has said it is very concerned about the findings of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board which published  highly critical findings on the sinking of the reality television programme vessel, Cabin Fever, off Tory Island in 2003.

The report says the three-masted schooner breached its operating licence and had no effective watchkeeping.

It also found that the contestants were fatigued at the time of the accident. 

It also says that the GPS - the Global Positioning System on board - which could have helped with the investigation was taken from the vessel by skipper/owner Rodger Barton and lost ashore before the investigator from the Marine Casualty Investigation Board arrived.

The Cabin Fever programme had been commissioned by RTÉ from a private company, Coco Television, which has disputed some of the investigator's comments.

In a statement, RTÉ said it understood that all conditions of the vessel's licence would be fully adhered to at all times.  

The vessel sank shortly after leaving Tory Island on Friday 13 June 2003.

Nine contestants and two crew on board were all saved, some getting ashore themselves, others rescued by helicopter.

The investigation report cites lack of effective watchkeeping, breaches of the vessel's passenger operating licence and interference caused by filming requirements on the number of experienced crew on board.

It says the vessel should not have left Rathlin for Tory in bad weather because it was only allowed operate in favourable conditions, and the investigators say there was no clear command structure aboard.

Coco Television has disputed that and says that all sailing decisions rested with the Master.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board says that fatigue had developed amongst crew and contestants, exacerbated by a late night out on Tory before sailing.

Coco Television has disputed the comments about the late night out. It says they had a substantial meal, with two glasses of wine per person.

Legal representatives of at least some of the contestants are understood to be studying the report.