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Thompsons Solicitors is supporting the families of crewmen who died in the Flying Phantom tragedy to pursue their call for a public inquiry into the incident.

A report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch was highly critical of Clydeport and the tug operator Denmark-based Svitzer Marine for their safety regimes.

Switzer was criticised for not ensuring the crew had received special training in navigating in poor visibility.

And Clydeport's risk assessment was described as 'immature and ineffective'. The organisation was heavily criticised for not fitting a £30,000 fog detection system, as recommended by the inquiry into a similar accident, also involving the Flying Phantom in 2000.

Solicitor Advocate Frank Maguire, Senior Partner of Thompsons said: "The families have decided, rightly in my view, that there should be a joint public inquiry before a Supreme Court judge, involving both Scottish and UK governments as happened in the Stockline factory case.

"This is important because many of the issues and ramifications apply to all UK ports and not just the Clyde.

"Our clients' primary objective is to ensure that no other families suffer the pain and loss they have been through but there is clear evidence that the ports industry is not learning the lessons from individual accidents.

"Paragraph 2.9 of the report states:

The loss of Flying Phantom was the latest in several accidents in port watersInvestigated by the MAIB. Since the PMSC's introduction, MAIB has conducted 23Investigations into contacts, collisions and groundings in port waters (out of a totalof 44 for this type of accident). Notable accident investigations in the last 3 yearshave included the ports of Newhaven, Mostyn, Liverpool and the Humber. In thecases involving the ports of Liverpool and Humber, both had a contributing factor ofinadequate or incomplete procedures for operations in restricted visibility.Recommendations from these investigations have been aimed at the ports industry, yet it appears that the lessons from an accident at one port are not always being learned by others.

Mr Maguire added that the report painted a really damning picture of Clydeport's attitude to good practice in Health and Safety matters.

In particular he criticised Clydeport for failing to implement the 1990 recommendation to fit a fog detection system at a cost of £30,000 or less, as this would have highlighted the danger and prevented the tragedy.

He said: "They made a calculation and decided that it was too expensive to put this in to save lives, on the back of an incident that happened in 2000. This is a company with financial interests in the tens of millions of pounds. Southampton Port Authority put in place a fog detection system in 2004 (and at much less cost)."

He added that if the fog system had been in place then the manoeuvre would not have proceeded last December 19 and the accident would never have occurred.

Helen Humphreys, widow of skipper Stephen Humpreys and Linda Cameron widow of engineer Bob Cameron said they were "shocked and dismayed" at the reports finding.

Mrs Humphreys, a mother of three including 18-month-old daughter, Nina, said: "We don't want other families to go through the devastation we have suffered. I would not wish what we have gone through on anyone.

Mrs Cameron, said: "I'm dismayed that the recommendations were not taken up when there was a previous incident on the Clyde in December 2000 at a time when other people would still have to work on the river."

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