River pilots escape with slight injuries in ship crash at Sutton Bridge

Accident aftermath: pontoons were pushed to one side in Tuesday nights accident in the Nene. SG240216-150TW
Accident aftermath: pontoons were pushed to one side in Tuesday nights accident in the Nene. SG240216-150TW

Two river pilots escaped with slight injuries when a massive ship hit two boats and pontoons in the River Nene at Sutton Bridge on Tuesday night.

The 80m long cargo vessel, Lady Nora, was on its way from Wisbech to a port in The Netherlands when the accident happened at about 7.45pm.

There were people on the pilot berth of the vessels and the ship nearly wiped them out

Resident

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said two casualties were taken to hospital.

A spokesman for Fenland District Council, which employs the pilots, said two of its marine staff were “slightly injured”.

The council spokesman said today (Wednesday) one man was taken to hospital, where he was checked and discharged on Tuesday night.

He continued: “The other saw his GP for a check-up this morning. Both men have been told to rest for a few days.”

The council hasn’t commented on a report of a vessel hitting fendering at Cross Keys Bridge three weeks ago, but denied a claim there was a trainee pilot on board the Lady Nora at the time of Tuesday’s crash.

A Sutton Bridge resident, who asked not to be named, told us: “A ship going out to sea from Wisbech collided with several moored vessels in Sutton Bridge.

“There were people on the pilot berth of the vessels and the ship nearly wiped them out.”

Tuesday’s collision is believed to be the first of its kind – at least in four decades – but sparked concern because the spot will soon be home to a near £900,000 commercial and pleasure boat marina.

Sutton Bridge Parish Council chairman John Grimwood said: “It’s concerning if they (the pilot boats) get hit there as the marina will be a bit further out (towards the middle of the river).

“Having said that, that’s the first time I can recall anything happening there.”

Coun Grimwood said the accident hadn’t affected navigation and wouldn’t interrupt Port Sutton Bridge, which is on the seaward side.

He said: “It’s basically pushed everything to one side.”

Police attended the accident along with a Coastguard rescue team. Marine accident investigators have been informed. An investigation is under way and the Lady Nora will be inspected when she reaches the overseas port.