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A Massive Cargo Ship Accident Was Caused by Rum

A Russian sailor was fired after it was discovered he drank half a liter of booze before driving a 7,000-ton ship into the Scottish coast.

by VICE Staff
Nov 23 2015, 4:40pm

Photo of another shipwreck by Richard Bartz via Wikicommons

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"What shall we do with the drunken sailor?" asks the age-old sea shanty. According to various versions the resolution is putting him in a longboat until he's sober, shaving his belly with a rusty razor (not sure how that would help), or—if you're into more esoteric nomenclature—"put him in the scuppers with the hosepipe on him," whatever that means.

The correct answer is none of the above: Fire him on the spot. And that's exactly what a shipping company did after it was discovered that a Russian sailor crashed a 7,000-ton, 432-foot cargo ship into a rocky foreshore in Scotland with half a liter of rum in his veins.

According to the Independent, in February this year a Lysblink Seaways vessel was on its way from Belfast to Skogn, Norway, carrying a cargo of paper when the sole officer on watch managed to run the ship into the foreshore at full speed. The ship was damaged so badly it had to be taken to the scrap heap, but not until it had sat in the sea for two days, spilling an approximate 25 tons of oil into the surrounding water.

The 36-year-old skipper had consumed over eight times the legal alcohol limit before falling asleep on duty and failing to correct the ship's course. A spokesman for DFDS said: "What happened on the ship was completely irresponsible. We have a very clear and very clearly communicated zero-tolerance alcohol policy which cannot be misunderstood."

According to the incident report, "Records showed that the bonded store was regularly replenished, and empty beer, wine, and spirit bottles and cartons found on board after the accident indicated significant levels of alcohol consumption by the crew."

As for the officer, it appears he was thrown overboard, figuratively speaking at least. A statement from the DFDS said that "the officer is no longer employed by DFDS" and they "hope this will not cast a shadow over our other officers who rightfully enjoy a very good reputation."