The Irish Rovers have been closing their performances with the sea shanty “What do you do with a drunken sailor?” for roughly five decades, last week’s report suggests that Russian sailors should stick to vodka, or at least avoid rum.
What the hell happened? Scotland is pretty big isn’t it?
In the wee hours of the morning last February 18th, a Russian officer tasked with guiding a 7,000 ton, 423 meter cargo ship through the dark waters between Belfast, Northern Ireland and Scotland thought it might be a good idea to ram Scotland.
The Lysblink Seaways had left Belfast on its way to the port city of Skogn in Norway when Scotland got in the way. Specifically the shoreline near Kilchoan on the Ardnamurchan peninsula wouldn’t give way to the approaching vessel. While the ship was salvaged, it was deemed hardly worth the trouble to repair and subsequently scrapped.
UK investigation shows Russian sailor was eight times the legal limit
A report filed last week by the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch makes what happened quite clear. The 36-year-old chief officer and the only person on watch when the crash occurred was simply “inattentive … due to the effects of alcohol consumption.”
Apparently, before his watch, the unnamed mariner made a phone call (likely to a woman) which “caused him anxiety, after which he consumed about 0.5 liter of rum,” according to the report. That 17 ounces of rum put is blood alcohol content at around a 0.27. In most states in the U.S., that would put him more than three times the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle. But that same amount is over eight times the legal limit for UK limit for professional mariners.
Essentially his errors after consumption were two-fold. He failed to turn on the ship’s navigation alarm system and then proceeded to make gross errors in his course plotting.
The irony of the company’s policies
The owners of the ship DFDS has a zero tolerance policy with regards to alcohol on board its ships, it’s also responsible for randomly testing its employees for alcohol and other drugs.
Strangely, despite this policy, Lysblink Seaways had a bonded store where crew could by beer, wine and spirits
“Records showed that the bonded store was regularly replenished, and empty beer, wine, and spirit bottles and cartons found on board after the accident indicated significant levels of alcohol consumption by the crew,” the report said.
Additionally, the report found no records of any crew members being drug/alcohol tested. As a result of the crash beyond the loss of a ship, Scotland’s coastal waters were treated to its own cocktail of 25 tons of marine gas.
Franky inexcusable says DFDS
Gert Jakobsen, a spokesman for DFDS, told CNN: “It’s not a case we have seen before, and there is no excuse for it whatsoever.
“Everyone (in the company) knows the consequences of having alcohol in the blood or being in possession of alcohol on board. …The officer in charge was fired.”
“We’re happy that no persons were injured during this quite dangerous situation.”