Captain Faces Court Over Viking Sigyn Collision

Published Mar 11, 2020 8:58 PM by The Maritime Executive

Captain Yuri Chaplinsky went on trial this week for his role in the collision that saw 25 South Korean tourists and two Hungarian crew killed on May 29 last year.

The 135-meter (443-foot) Viking Sigyn hit the 27-meter (89-foot) double-decker tourist boat, the Mermaid, under a bridge on the Danube in Budapest, Hungary, during heavy rain, high waters and strong current conditions. All the victims were from the Mermaid which sank quickly after the collision.

64-year-old Chaplinsky from Odessa has been charged with gross negligence leading to mass casualties and with failing to provide assistance to the people that were onboard the Mermaid. It is alleged that he was distracted for personal reasons before the collision and did not immediately order his crew to assist after the collision.

He was released on bail in June last year. At the time, Reuters reported that his legal team had said he was devastated by what happened, but he denied any wrongdoing. 

The prosecution is claiming that Chaplinsky had several minutes in which to take action to avoid the collision and that visibility was over a kilometer. Reuters reports that the prosecution called for a nine-year prison sentence if Chaplinsky pleaded guilty to the charges, but Chaplinsky said he wanted the matter to go to trial.

The captain of the Viking Idun, sister ship to the Viking Sigyn, is reported to be suspected of failing to provide assistance even though she arrived shortly after the collision.

Concerns have been raised that the government ignored warnings about the number of vessels operating on the river, particularly at night when tourists enjoy the spectacle of the city lights of Budapest.