Drunk ship captain arrested in New Zealand

Parmod Kumar, Master of the African Harrier, a 2014-built, 37k deadweight ton bulk carrier, pleaded guilty yesterday in New Zealand’s Tauranga District Court to operating a ship under the influence of alcohol.

He was found to have five times the legal breath alcohol limit and is the first person to be prosecuted since a change to the legislation in October 2013. He was fined $3,000, according to Maritime New Zealand.

The vessel was due to leave Tauranga on Sunday 22 March, but the Pilot expressed concern to Maritime NZ that the Master was under the influence of alcohol.

After visiting the vessel and speaking to the Master and testing him with an onboard breath test kit, the Maritime NZ staff member asked the Police to test the man. A breath test at Tauranga Police Station showed the man had a breath alcohol level of 1229 micrograms per litre, almost five times the legal limit of 250mg/l. Maritime NZ Director Keith Manch said the prosecution and sentence should send a strong message to the maritime industry.

“This sort of conduct by the Master of a vessel cannot be tolerated,” he said. “This outcome is the result of good cooperation between the Port of Tauranga, the Pilot, Maritime NZ, and the Police.

“The vast majority of Masters take their responsibilities very seriously but in this case it was clear that firm action was required.”

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