Alcohol abuse is becoming more common these days as people not only use this intoxicating liquor for letting loose and having fun, but also as a method for escaping the burden of their problems or drowning their sorrows. Alcohol has been an unhealthy coping mechanism for decades and has cost those who abuse it their livelihoods, relationships, and in many cases caused destruction and devastation to the environment and society.
February 18th, 2015- A well-respected chief officer of the Lysblink Seaways crashed a 7,000-ton vessel into the coast of Scotland spilling 25 tons of marine gas oil into the beautiful ocean.
Traveling from Belfast to Norway, a seasoned Russian chief officer took control of the 7,000-ton cargo vessel at midnight with high expectations of a safe voyage. It wasn’t till the chief officer received a personal phone call that caused him great stress and anxiety that he decided to turn to a bottle of rum to cope with the distress from his phone call.
After taking serval shots of rum to cope with his stress the voyage took a turn for the worst. The cargo ship’s off-track alarm on the Electronic Chart System (ECS) warned the intoxicated chief officer of the destructive path the cargo ship was heading, only for him to silence it without re-adjusting the course. The cargo ship’s bridge navigational watch alarm system (BNWAS) was also switched off, leading the Lysblink Seaways course for doom.
At full speed the cargo ship crashed into Kilchoan, Ardnamurchan peninsula off the West coast of Scotland gushing 25 tons of marine gas into the fragile ecosystem of the Scotland’s coastline.
The nine crewmembers aboard the ship were not injured upon the initial collision but, unfortunately, the damages to the vessel were beyond repair.
DFDS Group has 50 ships in operation with strict zero tolerance policies for drugs and alcohol, and safety protocols in place to prevent this type of situation from happening. These standards of operation give the DFDS Group a high reputation as far a cargo transportation goes. Because of this incident the zero tolerance and safety protocols will be strictly monitored by Gert Jakobsen, vice president of communications at DFDS Group for the other 50 ships still in service.
The poor decisions made under the influence of alcohol resulted into a career forever tainted, an ecosystem polluted and a ship scrapped for parts. The chief officer was fired the following day due to his alcohol abuse negligence.
Gert Jakobsen commented in a statement, “The day after the incident the chief officer was no longer an employee of ours. There is absolutely no excuse – we have a clearly communicated zero tolerance policy in our fleet and we have had that for some time. We have communicated that so clearly that it cannot be misunderstood at all. We have never before had any case like this.”
The spokesman for DFDS Group stated, “What happened on the ship was completely irresponsible … We have never seen an officer having violated the policy before and we have never before seen such negligence of our safety procedures … We hope this will not cast a shadow over our other officers who rightfully enjoy a very good reputation.”
Unfortunately for the chief officer in charge that night his unhealthy coping mechanism of binge drinking could have destroyed his career in the cargo industry. He very well could be suffering from an addiction to alcohol that should be treated.
Yes, he put the lives of his crew in jeopardy.
Yes, the chief officer managed to silence the alarm that sounded every 6 minutes from the seat of his chair in his inebriated state.
Yes, his actions caused the west coastline of Scotland to be polluted with 25 tons of oil, upsetting the fragile balance of marine life.
Yes, his unhealthy alcohol consumption could have tainted the reputation of a cargo company that implemented strict zero tolerance policies because it understood the tragic history of operating a ship under the influence of alcohol.
Alcohol consumption causing improper ship navigations have made an impact in history. While numerous occasions have occurred throughout history, above is a timeline featuring major accidents that have occurred because of operating a vessel under the influence of alcohol.
According to the Recreational Boating Statistics of 2014, in the United States alone, 1774 boating accidents have occurred between 2010 to 2014 due to alcohol consumption. Of those accidents, 673 ended in deaths.
Alcoholism is a Sinking Ship
Binge drinking to deal with anxiety or stress is a destructive coping mechanism that could indicate a serious addiction if not treated. Had he addressed this possible alcohol abuse addiction in the 36 years of his life, this incident may have been avoided all together.
Like many substance abuse addictions, over indulging does not just affect one person, but affects many people, companies, and ecosystems. Getting the proper treatment for alcohol dependency should be the chief officer’s main priority to prevent further harm to himself and those around him.