A container ship captain caught nearly four times over the legal alcohol limit while docking at Felixstowe had been drinking because he was "tired, exhausted and stressed" from the pressures of the job, a court heard.

Zbigniew Chowaniec, 65, had drunk four glasses of white wine at 4am on January 15 as his vessel, the MSC Roshney V, sailed towards the Port of Felixstowe and went to the ship's bridge where a pilot who had boarded the boat to guide it to port noticed a smell of alcohol on his breath.

Subsequently, a pilot from Harwich Haven authority reported the matter to his onshore colleagues and police were called.

They arrived at 7.25am to arrest Chowaniec, who pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to being over the legal limit.

READ MORE: Shipmaster was drunk in charge of Port of Felixstowe vessel

The sentencing at Ipswich Crown Court heard a breath test revealed he had 93 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath when the legal limit is 25 microgrammes.

Explaining why he had drunk the alcohol, Chowaniec said: "I was extremely tired and exhausted because I had four ports within the previous three days and I could not fall asleep because I was stressed, so I drank a few glasses of white wine."

He said he drank the wine "at least six hours before the vessel" arrived at port, adding that the trip was his "last contract".

READ MORE: Felixstowe news

Ipswich Star: The MSC Roshney V was headed for the Port of FelixstoweThe MSC Roshney V was headed for the Port of Felixstowe (Image: Paul Geater)Chowaniec, who lives in Poland and has two children aged 27 and 37, is set to retire after 25 years in the role of ship captain at the end of this year on $50,000 worth of savings.

He added: "I have no excuse and I totally regret it. I am truly sorry for what happened."

However, in sentencing Chowaniec, Judge David Wilson gave the defendant credit for his guilty plea and expressions of remorse, but said he was in a position of responsibility in charge of a large vessel with 28 crew members.

"You have indicated that you were operating under stressful circumstances and were tired and exhausted at the time, but of course as the captain that is part of your responsibility.

"You have underlined that you have undertaken such a role for 25 years. You are a family man with two children aged 27 and 37. This episode has marked rather sadly the end of your career as a captain."

He revealed the chief officer of the ship had also noticed changes in Chowaniec's behaviour, including that he was quiet in his demeanour and stood away from the other crew.

Chowaniec was given an eight-week suspended sentence and ordered to pay £340 costs.