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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 April 2007, 01:26 GMT 02:26 UK
Report links ferry to yacht loss
Forensic officers inspecting the Pride of Bilbao
The Pride of Bilbao was given a forensic inspection
A sailing yacht which was lost with its three crew in the Solent last year was either hit or swamped by a P&O ferry, an official report has concluded.

The Ouzo disappeared at night on 21 August after leaving Bembridge on the Isle of Wight headed for Dartmouth.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch says it was "almost certainly... affected by a collision or near collision with a large vessel".

It believes that vessel was the 37,000 metric tonne Pride of Bilbao.

The report also says the ship's lookout was wearing glasses with light reactive lenses and may not have been able to see perfectly.

The yacht never appeared on the ferry's radar.

'Swamped or capsized'

Marine accident investigators also discovered the crew of the ferry did not see the smaller boat until seconds before the incident and avoiding action came too late.

The report said: "After careful analysis of the facts, the MAIB is of the firm opinion that the yacht was Ouzo and that the Pride of Bilbao had collided with her, or passed so close that she had been swamped or capsized by the vessel's wash."

The wreck of the Ouzo has never been found but the bodies of Rupert Saunders and James Meaby from London, and Jason Downer from Kent - all experienced sailors - were recovered from the sea.

The ship's officer of the watch, Michael Hubble, is due to stand trial for manslaughter.

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Forensic officers inspect the Pride of Bilbao



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