A MAN has appeared in court charged with arson after a fire started on a North Sea ferry sparking an RAF helicopter rescue.
Boden George Hughes, 26, from Sunderland, is accused of starting a fire in a cabin on board the ship.
The MS King Seaways vessel was 30 miles off the North Yorkshire coast when the blaze started and had 946 passengers and 127 crew on board.
The ferry had been sailing to Amsterdam, on Saturday, December 28, but was eventually forced to turn back to port in North Shields.
Two passengers and four crew members were airlifted to hospital after two RAF helicopters were dispatched to the scene.
Hughes, who appeared by video link at Newcastle Crown Court, is charged with arson reckless to endanger life and affray.
Judge Paul Sloan QC said he would be remanding Hughes in custody and set a trial date in June.