Published: 09:00, 09 January 2019
| Updated: 10:22, 09 January 2019
A P&O captain has told of the moment he feared disaster when a laser beam distracted him as he was docking.
Alex Wroe said the incident happened at a crucial moment as the Spirit of France Cross-Channel ferry was near Dover Harbour.
He claimed the green beam – from a laser pen shone from the National Trust car park nearby – could have ended up with the ship hitting the jetty and causing injuries to passengers.
Capt Wroe said he feared the beam might strike his eyes and he immediately lowered his sight to the deck "and had it continued the ship would have been effectively out of control."
On trial at Canterbury Crown Court is 21 year old Christopher Lee accused of endangering the ferry by using the laser pen.
Lee, of Selkirk Road, Dover has denied interfering with the operation of the ferry.
But the captain told the jury: “We were travelling at two and half and three knots in the stern direction.
“There was a laser light directed at the vessel on the side of the side of the vessel and then at the bridge itself.”
The bridge, which has seven foot high floor to ceiling windows, gives the captain a 270 degree vision.
He added: “The sharp beam was shone at the windows between five and 10 seconds and the beam bounced around the bridge.
"The beam went up and down and around as thought someone was holding the torch in their hand.
“I then saw the beam travel around the harbour and saw it being directed at the port control building.”
“There was a very real risk of a collision..." Captain Wroe
Prosecutor Peter Forbes asked: “What was the immediate effect on you?”
The captain replied: “I had to move my head and look away in case the beam struck me causing irreparable damage to my eyesight.
“In self preservation I ducked my head and this took my focus and my attention away from handling the ship.”
The prosecutor said: “What is the impact on the safety of the vessel?”
Capt Wroe replied: “The safe navigation of a vessel can be totally destroyed because the crew cannot see where it is going or what is happening.
“There was a very real risk of a collision and the impact we were travelling there would have been a jolt, knocking people off their feet as passengers were making their way downstairs to their vehicles.”
He added that any jolt at that “critical phase of any voyage” could have caused vehicles to move, seriously injuring some passengers.”
The trial continues.