Tougher new penalties for the misuse of laser devices has been welcomed.
Under new laws brought in on July 10, anyone shining or directing a laser at ships, aircraft or road vehicles could face a prison sentence of up to five years, an unlimited fine or both. The previous fine was £2,500.
At the start of Maritime Safety Week in July, the Port of Southampton’s Harbourmaster Captain Phil Buckley (pictured) said: “Anything that improves safety on the water has to be welcomed. We have had incidents in the port when vessels have been targeted by lasers. People who shine lasers are putting lives at risk and we welcome this timely intervention.”
Lee Gallacher was serving as a crew member on one of the port’s patrol vessels when he experienced just how dangerous lasers can be. He said: “It was back in October, 2017, and we were escorting a large car ship when suddenly, the whole wheelhouse was lit up. It’s human instinct to look for the source of the light and that’s when I was caught by a couple of flashes.” Lee has now made a full recovery.