The Captain's headache
Captains of private and commercial yachts (and owners) have civil and criminal law duties most of which are concerned with the safe operation of the vessel. As the captain is regarded in law as being the owner’s agent, he is the person unfortunately on the spot. It is the captain who becomes personally liable in the first instance for any fine imposed on the vessel. Owners or charterers have no legal obligation to compensate him even though the offence may have occurred due to their fault. The offending yacht can be detained and the captain imprisoned until the fine is paid or breaches corrected. Port State Control inspect in the UK. Outside the UK, the fate of 69-year old Captain Apostolos Mangouras, detained in Spain and under investigation some 15 months after the sinking of the oil tanker “Prestige” is a sad testimony to the fact that liability is highly personal.