Captain’s alcohol conviction a strong warning: safety is paramount

7 August 2017

Maritime NZ’s Northern Regional Manager, Neil Rowarth, said today’s (August 7) alcohol conviction of a cargo ship’s master is a strong warning and reminder to seafarers: “Safety is paramount, if you are over the alcohol limit you will be prosecuted”.

The Whangarei District Court has fined Anthony Michael Baker (53) $3,000 for exceeding the alcohol limit for a seafarer. Mr Baker is master of the multi-purpose cargo carrier, Shansi, and is from Devon in the United Kingdom. The Maritime Transport Act limit is 250 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, and Mr Baker blew a test of 1,345 micrograms.

Mr Rowarth said Maritime NZ works closely with pilots, harbour masters, Police, and the maritime industry to ensure New Zealand’s waters are safe for all.

He praised the pilots whose prompt actions started this case, and the Police support of the prosecution.

On Friday morning (August 4) Senior Pilot, Kirit Barot, and Trainee Pilot, Richard Oliver, boarded Shansi to help her enter Whangarei Harbour and berth at North Port. They were concerned the master smelled of alcohol and about his behavior, so contacted the ship’s agent, the harbour master, and Maritime NZ.

A Maritime Officer boarded Shansi with a Police officer who could, if required, take an alcohol breath test. Mr Baker blew an exceptionally high alcohol reading, was arrested, placed in Police custody, and charged by Police.

“The master is legally responsible for their ship and all on board, and must be able to carry out their duties safely,” Mr Rowarth said.

“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.

“Alcohol impairs judgment and increases the risk of accidents. Where we find seafarers over the limit, we will take action.”

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