The master of an MSC container ship has pleaded guilty to being intoxicated while operating a vessel.
On January 15th, Zbigniew Chowaniec, a Polish national, was arrested on arrival at the port of Felixstowe located in eastern England.
Almost Four Times Over the Legal Limit
The port’s pilot alerted port police after suspecting Chowaniec of being drunk on duty. The pilot cited a strong smell of alcohol. He was detained, and a breathalyzer test showed Chowaniec was nearly four times over the legal limit.
Chowaniec first appeared at the Suffolk Magistrate Court and offered a guilty plea.
Polish Captain will be Sentenced in February
He will be sentenced at Crown Court in February. He surrendered his passport and was released on conditional bail. Chowaniec was captain of the 965-foot MSC Roshney V, which arrived from the Port of Antwerp-Bruges.
The Liberia-flagged vessel has since left the port for Turkey with a replacement captain. Felixstowe is the UK’s busiest container port, handling about 3,000 ships annually.
Chowaniec’s breathalyzer registered 93 micrograms per 100ml. The legal maximum for seafarers is 25 micrograms. MSC said his master’s contract has been terminated. The UK’s maximum legal limit for operating a vehicle is 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 milliliters of breath.
Beyond losing his job, Chowaniec faces potentially severe legal consequences for his actions. In the UK, operating a vessel under the influence can result in a fine of up to £25,000 and two years imprisonment. Furthermore, maritime authorities are investigating the incident and may impose additional penalties.