Drunk Captains

Years ago I had a friend whose captain was a drunk. His sea-stories got me to wondering what should happen in case the captain was drunk when he really should be sober. The old man was drunk underway with the con for most departures, some arrivals and often the times in between. The other officers ignored the obvious intoxication.

The worst story he told was when the ship was about to transit a channel in rain. Visibility was poor. The captain was obviously drunk and too lost in his sea stories to notice the buoys were on the wrong side as they approached a narrow. A last minute, panicked call from the mate on the bow along with lots of hard rudder got them threw the narrow. Then the old man went right back to telling his sea stories.

His stories got me to wonder what should or could be done in such cases where the captain (unlimited oceans) has an alcohol problem. What if he is drunk with the con? What about being shit-faced in port? Most important to many if us, what sort of liability would the other officers (and crew) face for ignoring obvious signs of intoxication?

Finally, how would someone attempt to breathalyze his captain? That sounds like an awful task.

Any thoughts on this matter would be appreciated!

Really, your main concern is liability? Would you really stand by while an obvious drunk takes the con? If so you’ve earned your Darwin Award. Have you heard of the newest thing, it’s called a phone. Drop a dime.

I’d notify the company DPA (Designated person ashore) ASAP. Tell then you plan to call the CG next. Get some written witness statements if possible.

It would be best if the chief mate made the call, maybe have a second party nearby to verify the story. I would say this is on the C/M. If he doesn’t have the balls someone else needs to step up. . If an unlicensed crew drops a dime the officers are not going to come out looking very good.