A Newcastle Crown Court has fined Germany’s Cux Ship Management £60,000 for improper management of its cargo ship, MV Danio, which hit the Farne Islands off the Northumberland coast, England, in March 2013.
The cargo vessel was carrying logs from Perth to the Belgian port of Ghent when the incident occurred.
The vessel’s crew were asleep when the alarm system was switched off, which caused the accident.
According to the court, the crew were asleep as the vessel hit the National Trust site, despite the Longstone Lighthouses warning beams that flashed the sea.
Newcastle Crown Court judge Brian Forster said there could have been a major maritime incident.
"In my judgment, there was a lack of effective management, which allowed the situation to come about," Forster said.
"Clearly, any vessel operating silently at night without a look-out is a moving danger and a threat to any other vessel which may be on the seas."
Cuxship Ship Management had violated two maritime regulations, the court said, and ordered the company to pay £12,796 in prosecution costs.
Maritime and Coastguard Agency Tyne Marine Office consultant surveyor Alan Thompson said it is fortunate that the damage to the MV Danio was relatively small and that there were no injuries or deaths.
"It is also fortunate that the effects on such an environmentally sensitive area as the Farne Islands were minimal," Thompson said.