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Defence Force Vessel Caused Collision

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force vessel P40 was speeding through the harbour at a high rate of speed when it collided with a 16-foot aluminum skiff nearly three years ago.

Ralph Saunders, an expert witness in accident and reconstruction and a former defence force captain, told  a coroner’s curt jury that the defence force vessel was responsible for the accident.

Gladstone Ferguson, 78, was on board the skiff when it collided with the P40.  Ferguson fell overboard and his body was discovered 15 hours later in waters near Paradise island.

Saunders said at the time of the incident, the defence force vessel broke Rule 6 of the “Rules of The Road”, which states that a vessel must travel at a safe speed in the harbour at all times to avoid a collision.

Leading Seaman Demetrius Ferguson and marine mechanic David Balfour were operating the P40 at the time of the collision.

During questioning by attorney Jamal Davis, who represents the Ferguson family, Mr Saunders noted that the P40 is equipped with lights which can be seen from two to three miles away, as well as radar equipment.

Mr Saunders noted that neither officer made reference to the radar or to there having been a lookout on the bow at the time of the incident.

He also noted that no operational lights were on Mr Ferguson’s boat.

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