Drunken sailor fined

A DRUNK Ukrainian was three times over the limit when the container ship he was in charge of docked at Felixstowe, the Evening Star can reveal today.Vadim Sidorenko, 39, pleaded guilty to excess alcohol on April 16 after he consumed five bottles of beer and several vodkas.

A DRUNK Ukrainian was three times over the limit when the container ship he was in charge of docked at Felixstowe, the Evening Star can reveal today.

Vadim Sidorenko, 39, pleaded guilty to excess alcohol on April 16 after he consumed five bottles of beer and several vodkas.

It is understood Sidorenko's ship sailed without him after he was arrested - and today it was not known whether he was still in Britain or had sailed or flown out of the country to meet up with the vessel and his crew.

South East Suffolk Magistrates Court heard that the captain had been celebrating a birthday on board the 2,000 ton, 100-metre long MV V.Ushakov and had broken company policy by drinking two bottles of beer while on duty.


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He then navigated the river mouth along with Simon Davey, the Harwich pilot, and the chief mate to bring the vessel into the docks.

Mr Davey smelt alcohol on Sidorenko and informed the port police, who contacted Suffolk Police and they carried out a positive breath test.

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They discovered Sidorenko was three times over the limit with 104 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. The legal limit for driving a car is 35 micrograms.

He was arrested for being in breach of the Railway and Transport Safety Act 2003.

During an interview Sidorneko although he was on duty when he drank the two beers he had handed the responsibility of the ship over to his chief mate and retired to his cabin where he drank three more bottles of beer and some vodka.

Dino Barricella, mitigating said: "As master of the vessel Mr Sidorenko is always deemed to be in charge when he is in the vessel".

He said the ship was docking at the harbour at the time of the offence and would have been expected to stay there for 24 hours before sailing again.

The court heard that Sidorenko had reached a quick promotion due to his accomplishments at the Seaman's Academy in 1989 and since becoming a Merchant Seaman in 1993.

Mr Barricella said Sidorenko's employers were aware of the offence and the court hearing and would be likely to take disciplinary action on Sidorenko's return.

Sidorenko, who has a wife and a 16-year-old daughter in the Ukraine was fined £2,000 (about a month's pay) and ordered to pay £43 towards court costs.

PANEL

STEERING a ship while under the influence of alcohol into a harbour used by other huge vessels is as dangerous as being a drunk driver on a motorway.

State-of-the-art satellite-controlled navigation systems ensure every movement is strictly monitored and controlled to avoid these giants of the seas colliding and the enormous impact, damage and loss of life which would follow.

But there is always room for human error - few will forget the sinking of the European Gateway with the loss of six lives after a collision with a train ferry just outside the harbour in 1982, though alcohol was not a factor in that incident.

While ships stick to their own channels, or lanes, as they enter and leave the harbour, the narrowness of its entrance and the turning movements of bigger ships leaves little room for error.

Larger vessels - like that captained by Sidorenko - are guided into port by a pilot and usually tugs. The pilot gives his expertise on the peculiarities of a harbour but the captain is in charge of steering and berthing his ship.

New laws on aviation personnel and professional mariners who drink on duty were brought in a year ago - giving police power to breath test.

Professional sailors face the same 80mg in 100ml of blood limit as road users.

Pilots, cabin crew and air traffic controllers are subject to a limit of 20mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood.

Offenders face penalties as high as a £5,000 fine or two years in prison.

Marine officials also have the power to detain vessels pending the arrival of the police if they have reason to suspect an offence is being committed.

The limits for sailors apply to those on UK registered vessels around the globe as well as those serving on foreign or unregistered vessels in UK waters.

The government said at the time the aim of the legislation was to make it easier to prosecute offenders.

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