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Drunken Captain
A drunken captain was convicted and fined for excessive alcohol consumption while operating a vessel after blowing 5 times the legal limit.

Last Friday the Shansi called Northport New Zealand, and when senior pilot Kirit Barot and trainee pilot Richard Oliver boarded the 31,000 DWT multi-purpose vessel to assist it entering the harbour they were concerned the master smelled of alcohol and his behaviour. They contacted the ship's agent, the harbour master and Maritime NZ who took action once the ship berthed and took alcohol breath tests of the master.

Under the Maritime Transport Act the legal limit is 250 mgs of alcohol per litre of breath and Captain Anthony Michael Baker blew an exceptionally high reading of 1345 mgs. The Whangarei District Court fined the 53-year-old UK citizen NZ$3000.

Maritime NZ northern regional manager Neil Rowarth said Mr Baker’s conviction was a strong warning and a reminder to seafarers that safety is paramount. “If you are over the alcohol limit you will be prosecuted,” he said. “Alcohol impairs judgment and increases the risk of accidents, where we find seafarers over the limit, we will take action.”

Mr Rowarth said a master is legally responsible for their ship and all on board, and must be able to carry out their duties safely. “A shipping accident can have tragic and widespread consequences. It endangers the crew, seafarers on other ships, and the environment – it can do serious damage to local economies and communities.”