A sailor who was in charge of a cargo ship that ran aground off the Scottish coast was allegedly drunk and recorded snoring in his cabin, a court has heard.
The BBC Marmara, a 90-metre vessel carrying fertiliser, got stuck on rocks near Ardrossan in North Ayrshire on November 25, 2023. The ship was on its way from Belfast to Gothenburg, Sweden, when it veered off course and hit the shore at around 11pm.
The coastguard, RNLI and a tug boat were called to the scene to assist the stranded ship, which had 12 crew members on board. No one was injured and no pollution was caused by the incident, but the ship suffered damage to its hull and propeller.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) launched an investigation into the cause of the grounding and found that the officer of the watch, a 36-year-old Ukrainian national, was drunk and asleep in his cabin at the time of the accident.
The MCA said that the officer had failed to hand over the watch to another crew member and had left the bridge unattended. He had also disabled the ship’s alarm system, which would have alerted him to the deviation from the planned route.
The MCA obtained a recording from the ship’s voyage data recorder, which captured the sound of the officer snoring in his cabin. The recording also revealed that the officer had been drinking alcohol and had made several phone calls to his girlfriend before falling asleep.
The officer was arrested and charged with failing to perform his duty and endangering the safety of the ship and its crew, under the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. He appeared at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court on November 27, 2023 and pleaded guilty to the charges.
He was sentenced to four months in prison and banned from working on any UK-registered ship for five years. The sheriff said that the officer had shown a “gross dereliction of duty” and had put lives and the environment at risk.
The MCA’s area operations manager, David MacLennan, said that the officer’s actions were “reckless and irresponsible” and that he had “let down his fellow crew members and the shipping industry”.
He added that the MCA would not tolerate such behaviour and would “take robust action against anyone who breaks the law and endangers maritime safety”.