Crew charged in marine fatality

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SEPT. 25 — British investigators arrested a senior crew member of a passenger ferry in connection with the deaths of three sailors whose yacht disappeared in August off the Isle of Wight.

The 61-year-old man was the second mate on the P&O Ferries-owned Pride of Bilbao, according to a report in England’s Southern Daily Echo newspaper. As second officer, the man was apparently responsible for the safe navigation of the 500-foot, 2,500-passenger ferry that operates between Portsmouth, England, and Bilbao, Spain. The man was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of causing manslaughter through gross negligence, according to the report, and was later released on bail.

The bodies of James Meaby, 36, Jason Downer, 35 and Rupert Saunders, 36, were discovered Aug. 23 and 24 floating in the English Channel. The men set off Aug. 20 from Bembridge, England, aboard their 26-foot sailboat, Ouzo. They were on their way to a regatta.

Investigators began investigating the Pride of Bilbao — examining the ship’s hull and its black box data — after it was determined that the ferry was in the area around the time of the accident, the news report says. It was suspected that Ouzo collided with a larger vessel and sank.

The Pride of Bilbao remains operating while authorities continue the investigation, according to the news report.

— Jason Fell