A 4,000 tonne Red Funnel ferry ploughed into a yacht and almost crushed a family of sailors because its captain failed to keep a 'proper' lookout, a court heard yesterday (Monday).

Capt Ian Drummond sat 'static' in his chair as the 305ft Red Funnel vessel smashed into the 32ft motor cruiser and forced it to tilt with four passengers inside, prosecutors said.

Smashed glass was flung across the yacht, hurling the terrified sailors to the ground as it tipped about 70 degrees and nearly capsized.

But Capt Drummond remained completely 'unaware' the Isle of Wight-bound Red Falcon had crashed into the yacht during its journey across the Solent from Southampton.

The 62-year-old only learned of the collision just before his vessel arrived in Cowes.

He claimed modifications made to the ferry in 2014 — which saw it raised in height to accommodate more passengers — meant a further lookout was needed but his pleas were allegedly ignored by Red Funnel.

Southampton Magistrates' Court heard Julie Jackson was with husband Peter on their diesel-powered Phoenix yacht when she was thrown across the vessel by the impact.

She was left in shock as the couple and her brother and sister-in-law rushed to put on lifejackets while water began to engulf the vessel.

In a statement read to the court, Mrs Jackson said: "As I stepped out on the deck, I was made aware of a number of things happening all at once.

"I heard a loud bang, glass smashing, and saw a wall of red on my right-hand side. At the same time, I was thrown towards the seating area.

"We started to put on our lifejackets on. I sat down shocked."

'Nervous' Deborah Baxter said her brother-in-law Peter Jackson was sailing slowly towards Cowes as she often suffered sea sickness.

Mrs Baxter said: "It was not going very fast as I am a nervous passenger.

"The next thing, I heard a loud crashing noise and glass smashing behind me and I could feel a shower of glass pieces hitting me on my back and shoulder area.

"I could see a wall of red. I could not believe it. The ferry carried on without stopping."

Prosecutors allege Capt Drummond, who began sailing in 1972, would have spotted the yacht in front of the Red Funnel ferry if he had ordered a 'simple lookout'.

He also failed to view CCTV 'immediately' in front of him, the court was told.

Opening the case, prosecutor Oliver Willmott said: "He had been on the Solent, working this route, for many years. They are notoriously busy waters, there's an enormous amount of traffic.

"Others on the Solent saw it, and in fact, passengers on board saw it, but Capt Drummond did not.

"If there had been a proper lookout, the vessel would have been sighted and avoided.

"The vessel was visible. A simple lookout through the bridge windows would have avoided it. She wasn't detected so there wasn't a proper lookout.

"Throughout this period, from the point when a radio communication is made, and after the collision, Capt Drummond is static.

"He could have moved around. It's our case that he should have moved around. This is a vessel with blind sectors. Good seamanship dictates that the lookout is mobile and not static."

Capt Drummond, of Southampton, denies misconduct of master likely to endanger ships, structures or individuals, and being the master responsible for conduct of a vessel contravening the Merchant Shipping regulations on September 29, 2018.

Mr Willmott said: "It is said by Capt Drummond in interviews that he had told the company from the word go, when the modifications came, there needed to be another lookout on the bridge, but he had been ignored.

"If that's the case, Capt Drummond should never have sailed."

The trial continues.

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