According to latest expert opinions, instead of the required two sailors, only one captained the Hableány sightseeing boat, which collided with a cruise ship in central Budapest back in May, meaning that the Hableány was unfit for navigation, writes Hungarian news portal Index.hu.
Experts said that the Hableány
was unfit to sail at the time and place of the event due to the lack of a sailor.
According to Index.hu, the need to increase the number of crew was already included in the ship’s previous certificate. The expert added that the ship’s captain should have reported this to the operator, the Panorama Deck Kft.
According to the news portal, experts said that the Hableány was nowhere near equipped as the Viking Sigyn hotel ship. For example, the sightseeing ship carrying South Korean tourists did not have a radar, which would have greatly helped its movement in bad weather conditions like at the time of the accident. From the wheelhouse, “the canopy and chimney on the upper deck partially restricted the view.”
Zoltán Borbély, legal representative of Panorama Deck Kft. answered the claims, saying:
It is not true that the Hableány was unfit to navigate, the boat had every official license.An extra sailor would have meant losing one more man in the tragedy.
Borbély added that radar equipment is optional for these kinds of sightseeing ships.
On Viking Sigyn’s radar, the Hableány’s call code appeared at 9.40 pm, meaning the captain of the cruise ship had to see the sightseeing ship in front of him. The alarm system of the ship’s wheelhouse also gave a signal minutes before the collision, alerting the crew that the vessel was too close. Experts say that no one responded to the signal, which means that the Viking probably changed its course and started an overtake without informing the other ship-master. According to expert opinion however, the Hableány did not give five short beeps according to the rules of navigation, alerting the other ship when it wants to overtake without a signal.
On May 29th, the Viking Sigyn cruise ship collided with a sightseeing boat that had 33 South Korean tourists on board and a crew of two Hungarians. Seven tourists were rescued from the Danube river but all the others died in the collision.
Last month, the 64-year-old Ukrainian captain of the Viking Sigyn was taken into custody on suspicion of criminal misconduct but later released on a bail of 15 million forints (EUR 45,800).
The municipal court ruling granting the captain’s release also obliged him to remain in Budapest. On Monday, the Kúria, Hungary’s supreme court, said in a non-binding resolution that the decision by lower courts to release the captain on bail was unlawful. The captain is now back in police custody on suspicion of failing to provide assistance after the collision.