British ferry captain crashed into fishing boat and killed skipper ‘because crew were chatting about Halle Berry as Catwoman’
- Captain said Hollywood star was 'jumping everywhere like a cat' in a 'sexy outfit' moments before the fatal collision in thick fog off Jersey
- Crew failed to spot the 30ft fishing vessel on TWO radar screens and had the fog horn turned off
By Rob Cooper
Last updated at 3:13 PM on 21st October 2011
Distraction: Halle Berry as she appears in Catwoman and the reason a passenger ferry captain's mind was not on his job, says a report
A British ferry crashed into a French fishing boat killing its skipper because the crew were discussing how 'sexy' Halle Berry looked in the movie Catwoman.
The French fishing vessel was sliced in two by the force of the collision in thick fog between St Helier in Jersey and St Malo, France, on March 28 this year.
A damning report into the crash has revealed that the 56-year-old French captain of the high-speed Condor Vitesse catamaran joked with colleagues about the Hollywood actress as the passenger vessel travelled across the channel at full speed in poor visibility.
The investigation also disclosed that the captain and crew failed to spot the boat on two separate radar screens.
And French marine accident investigators also discovered that the ferry's fog horn had been turned off because it was thought that the sound of the vessel's engines would be enough to warn craft in the surrounding area.
A transcript of the conversation on the bridge of the Condor Vitesse showed that crew had no idea that danger was imminent.
Minutes before the fatal impact with the whelk fishing boat Les Marquises, the ferry's unnamed master said to colleagues: 'Yesterday evening I watched Catwoman on the TV. I'm an idiot because after that I slept very badly.'
The first officer replied: 'Catwoman?'
The master said: 'She was jumping from everywhere like a cat. She is very beautiful. She was wearing sexy outfit.'
The conversation turned went on to talk about drug testing and how long various substances remained in the body.
They only learned there was a problem when a leak alarm on the ferry went off.
The 30ft boat was broken in two in the collision, sending her three crew into the water. Her captain Philippe Claude Lesaulnier, 42, was killed.
The master then announced to the 194 passengers on board: 'Your attention please, this is an announcement from the bridge, we have collided a foreign body in the water, perhaps a little piece of wood or a pot buoy, we'll investigate and we'll inform you.'
A passenger, however, had seen the collision from the deck and informed the crew that he thought they'd collided with a fishing boat.
Ship wrecked: The French whelk fishing boat Les Marquises was torn in two as the Condor Vitesse travelled at top speed in thick fog between St Helier, Jersey, and St Malo, France, earlier this year
Shattered: Skipper Philippe Claude Lesaulnier perished when his boat was rammed by the British based passenger ferry
The report by the French investigation body BEAmer, found the ferry was travelling at 37 knots, almost top speed for the vessel, and had not strengthened look-outs in the fog.
The report stated: 'In the wheelhouse almost continuous talking without any link to the watch-keeping, maintained an atmosphere not compatible with the necessary concentration to conduct a high speed craft in the fog.'
Poor visibility: The 40 mile stretch of sea between St. Helier, Jersey, and Saint Malo, France, was shrouded in thick fog the day of the collision
It added: 'This behaviour, as well as the visibility contributed to the accident.
'When Condor Vitesse approached the Minquiers waters, both officers did not detect two vessel echoes ahead on starboard, the first was a ship that would be passing a hundred metres on starboard, the second was Les Marquises.'
In its findings the report also explained what happened in the final moments on the fishing boat before the collision.
Out of the fog one of the deck hands 'suddenly heard an engine noise very close' and alerted his colleague who shouted at the skipper 'Full astern, full astern'.
The same deckhand watched in horror as the massive ferry appeared quickly from the fog on a collision course with the wheelhouse of the smaller boat.
Simon Edsell, managing director of Condor Ferries, based in Poole, Dorset, said: 'Condor Ferries welcomes the publication of the BEAmer report into this this tragic accident.'
He said the master and first officer had been relieved of their duties following the crash and that other investigations were continuing.
Collision: The Condor Vitesse sliced through the small whelk fishing boat in thick fog during a crossing between St. Helier in Jersey and St Malo in France last March, killing its skipper.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2051706/UK-ferry-crash-killed-skipper-caused-crew-chat-Halle-Berry-Catwoman.html#ixzz1bRg7MfuS