Page last updated at 21:50 GMT, Monday, 29 October 2007

Jury hears ferry black box record

Map of southern England and the Isle of Wight

A ship's black box recorded a ferry officer accused of manslaughter talking about a yacht close to the vessel, a court heard.

A transcript of the recording was read out at Winchester Crown Court in the trial of Michael Hubble, of Kent.

He has denied manslaughter through gross negligence and engaging in conduct likely to cause death or serious injury to three men.

It is alleged the men drowned after the P&O ferry sunk or swamped their yacht.

The sailors, from London and Kent, died in the English Channel in August 2006.

The onboard voyage data recorder, or black box, recorded some conversation between Hubble and his lookout David Smith during the alleged incident, which was read to the jury.

Smith: "Head on, head on, it's pretty close."

Hubble: "Is it a yacht?"

Smith: "Yes."

Hubble: "Whereabouts?"

Smith: "Just right there."

Hubble then steers the ferry to port and then starboard to avoid the yacht.

Hubble: "All right?"

Smith: "We'll see."

Hubble: "I can't believe it came up that quick."

Despite this conversation, Christopher Parker, prosecuting, said Hubble did nothing and he did not even put the incident in the ship's log.

James Meaby and Rupert Saunders, both 36 and from Tooting, south London and Jason Downer, 35, from Kent, died after the Ouzo, which has never been found, sank that night.

The trial continues.

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