A Lesson in Drinking and Sailing


On February 18, 2015, a 7,000 ton cargo ship was rammed into the coast of Scotland.  The crash resulted in 25 tons of marine gas being leaked into coastal waters and the ship in question having to be scrapped for parts.  Luckily, no one, except someone’s pride, was hurt.  An investigation into the incident yielded some pretty interesting facts.

The investigation showed that the 36-year-old chief officer of the boat had drunk about half a liter of rum or 17 ounces, after a phone call that caused him some anxiety. After the crash, the officer in question was given a breathalyzer test where his blood alcohol content level was 2.71 mg/ml (0.27 in U.S. terms) — eight times over the legal limit in the UK. The officer’s inebriation caused him to not implement crucial procedures for the boat’s course or turn on alarm systems that would have alerted other crew members that the boat was not being controlled properly- and have prevented the crash.

The investigation also revealed that random drug testing was not being carried out regularly as protocol demands and the zero alcohol policy on board was being ignored; specifically with the usage of a bonded store, full of beer, spirits, wine, and, you guessed it, rum.  The store was being replenished regularly, so this shipwreck in Scotland was an incident waiting to happen.

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.”