The Shetland Oil Disaster: Ex-captain's fears on route

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The Independent Online
A SWEDISH former captain of the Braer said he would never have chosen a route between Orkney and the Shetland Islands where the ship ran aground.

Peter Hilding, 48, who lives in Britain, was quoted by the newspaper Expressen at the weekend as saying he always travelled north or south of the Shetland Islands when bound for North America from the Norwegian port of Mongstad. Mr Hilding said he was captain of the Braer for a year until late 1991. 'I never went between the Shetland Islands and Orkney. If I was bound for Canada I would go north of the Shetlands, and if I was going to New York or the Gulf of Mexico, I would choose the English Channel,' he said.

The reason was that the seas were too dangerous between the islands, even if the route could cut 24 hours from the journey.

However, Mr Hilding stopped short of criticising the Braer's Greek captain. He said skippers faced tremendous time pressure from owners.