Master fired for being drunk

A Master has been fired for being 3x over the limit for alcohol while in command of a ship:

Yes, in the 1970/90’s most people at sea were drunk all the time on and after work. What else to do? But then sensible shipowners changed their systems. No drinking at sea at all was allowed. And it worked. You can do other things than drinking your self to death at sea. It is a pity that 20 years later the problem persists.
But dismissing a Captain on a ship doesn’t solve the problem. The solution is higher up.

I am looking forward to your proposal to solve it “higher up”.

From my perspective it is solved on board. The only thing the crew need is support from the office.

My personal opinion is that unless someone forces you to drink at gunpoint, you can only blame yourself. If you can’t help it, you need help and good employers will help to arrange that for good employees, but even then your place is not on board a ship until the problem is solved.

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It’s got a lot to do with the drinking culture in different countries and different parts of the world.
Some nationalities are able to handle having alcohol fairly easily available on board and others not, in general.

Personally I would say that I never missed having European crews on ships, mainly because of their drinking and complaining culture.

With Asiatic crews this was never a problem. If there was crew problem it was serious, not the constant nagging, or regular problem with drunkenness.

More like well publicized accidents and calamities persuaded the legal departments to make the majority of ships dry to avoid litigation and keep the insurance premiums from skyrocketing. One or two drinks after hours helps to unwind but the fact that you are not 100% at your most efficient should an emergency occur which they do at the most unpredictable times aboard ship makes it a foolhardy practice in most instances.

I sailed with a few. Quite a few. I didn’t think about it much. Sun was over the yard arm. It was the norm.
Odds were quite often the old man was a piss tank quite often the chief.
We used to cover for them. As a mate you couldn’t get away with it. Though some would from time to time.

Depending where we were. A good run ashore. Back to stand my watch then on the loose again after sobering up. Back it time to sail. Nobody ever had to bail me out to sail. Though crew were sometimes.

I was brought back a few times by the local constabulary. Some how I lost my seaman’s card. I got a letter from my mum asking me why it was sent home by the Louisiana State Patrole. I have a vague recollection of reporting my ship stolen to a very large officer with a very large baton.

You were always expected to turn to. Failure to turn to. Was not socially acceptable. I was about 12 hours late. Mate was pissed made me work all day.

Times have changed.

Mid 80s. I was still a young 3rd. I had a couple of strange expieriences with the Old Man. Close calls, I couldn’t put my finger on it. Some of his actions just weren’t making sense.

All the other old piss tanks. Would turn up if called. And made sense.

We had been in Port on the NE coast, ships home port. The old mans wife had visited. Left heading for a quick stop. On the continent then heading down to west Africa.

Night orders to call the old man 1 hr before the Noord Hinder. I called but no old man, called again at the Noord Hinder. When the 2nd came up I still hadn’t seen the old man. Well I guess he had no more luck than I did.
I got called out before 0600 by Tommy the Mate. Told to get my Arse up forward and drop the Anchor which was unusual.
After which I came back up to the Bridge. Tommy was steaming mad. Left me with
“ Agent, Customs and Imigration are here” I park his F ing ship but I dammed if I’ll do his paper work.
And F ed of leaving me to it.
It was almost noon when I got the old man up. He was like bum.

Paper work got done. We got bunkers and loaded.

Tommy was one of the smartest guys I ever sailed with. I learned a lot from him. I never quite measured up to his expectations. I respected him a lot but never really liked him. We were from very difrent Generations he was WW2 Glen Miller and I was a Punk. I never knew the story. I just knew he had once been a Captain Once upon a time. Never would be again.

The Old Man. Was not very old he had his MM at 24 and been promoted almost right away. Bout 15 years earlier. I think he tried to be nice to me but I didn’t like him. I thought he was a dick.

That evening when we sailed. The old Man was still shit faced. Unfortunately Tommy had fallen of the wagon to. He was in a worse state than the old Man. He could barely walk. He did tell me the Capt was drunk as a skunk and to call him if I had a problem. Unfortunately Tommy was well past being any help.

Bosun and I sailed the ship. With the Pilot. The old man turned up for the Pilot disembarking. The Pilot wouldn’t let me take him down to the ladder.
He told me to stay where I was. He didn’t trust the old man.

He left and we head out to cross Dover and head west. The old man had the con. At first he was listening. He kept asking the same shit over again.
Ended up he wouldn’t listen and I was sure we would have a collision if we followed his order.

This time I knew he had been drinking. I knew what the problem was. I really needed Tommy but he was down and out.
I took the ship from the Captain.
I had to take both the wheel and the Telegraph to do it.
The QM wouldn’t listen to me. He knew who the important guy was and it wasn’t me. He wasn’t willing to put up a fight though. Capt was. He just wasn’t big enough.

2nd Mate showed up. Said F this I’m out of here.
I did what was required followed the rules and no bad shit happened.

The Chief appeared. It hadn’t occurred to me to call the Chief Engineer. The 2nd Mate went and got him. He told the old man to get off the Bridge and me To hand over to the 2nd.
The Chiefs orders were for the 2nd to cover till 0600 and for me to take over at 0600. We were not to hand over to ither the Mate or Capt.

I came back on watch for 0600 we were approaching the Varne in heavy Traffic both the Mate and Old Man were on the Bridge. The 2nd Mate was nowhere in sight. Both were accusing the other of being drunk. Fortunately both left.

The Chief came up before breakfast. Asked how things were. I was reluctant to say.
Was the 2nd on when you came up.? No both the Capt and the Mate.
Why? You will need to ask him.
How were they doing.
Well. That’s where Tommy told ne we were
That’s where we actually were.
What’s the difrence? About 6 miles inthe Dover Straights. Nothing he told me about the traffic made sense.
How did we get here.?
Far as I can tell he was still to shit faced to see the chart or the radar all he’s been doing is following the ship in front of us.

The Chief ordered me to head for Lyme Bay. Saying he didn’t care which one of them was sober. Would ask for a new Capt to be sent out to Lyme Bay. In the end the Old Man Sobered up by Lyme Bay or at least to the Chief Satisfaction.
He never mentioned our little incident. Was quite pleasant to me. I never brought it up again.
Unfortunately it was a couple off weeks and the full DTs before Tommy dried out.
He apologized to me. Offered to replaced a 1 Ltr bottle of rum he had stollen from my cabin and drank while I was on watch. I was surprised it didn’t kill him. I never got my bottle back but I kind of l8ked Tommy and was just pleased to see him sober again and back to being a man I had respected.
We went down to west Africa. Which we’ll enough said about west Africa. Then on to the US east coast.

My trip was cut short we were all signed off unexpectedly in the US. In my case a couple of months early. I thought it was odd. I asked for an open ticket. May pay in cash and signed off. I had to ask immigration for permission to stay. I spent the next couple of months traveling across Canada and the US.
After I got off the ship I had to call the Boss back in the Uk.
I called from a YMCA a week later.

He asked how I was enjoying my holiday. suggested I should avoid New Orleans. just in case I lost my discharge book Or passport.
Then he asked about what happened in fairly big port in Europe.
I guess I mumbled a bit.
It’s ok if you are not comfortable telling me. how about I tell you what happened you tell me if my information is accurate.
I confirmed it was.
How he knew he didn’t tell me. He knew I had taken the ship from the Capt.
I figured I was going to get fired.
He assured me I was fine just enjoy my enjoy my time of try and stay out of trouble until I joined my next ship.

The 2nd Mate and I sailed together again. When I returned I heard the Old Man and the Mate joined thier next ship in Europort. just prior to sailing time the Boss arrived with a doctor gave them blood test.
There was a Capt and Mate waiting in a hotel to replace them both when they failed the blood tests

I haven’t named the old man. I heard he passed away just a couple of years later. still a young man in his 40’s. I have seen family asking about him in ither forums. So he will remain anonymous. Tommy I never heard of again.

I felt bad for both loosing thier jobs. I am sorry one died young probably due to alcohol.
They were not the only guys who drank.
It was not unknown. Company policy changed a bit. No more bottles of rum in our cabins.
British ship the Bars stayed open.

Something should have been done sooner. I should have done something sooner. Kind of hard to believe I hadn’t figured out the Old Man was drinking when ever things might be stressful. I hadn’t. Hell everyone drank.
Even after this I didn’t report it.
The port might have.
The pilots might have
The Chief Engineer probably did.

In the following years I sailed with quite a few infamous Mates. Who were great guys sober. With reputations for trouble.
I was kind of heading for a reputation myself.

There was a thread here about who’s in charge of the ship if the Capt is incapacitated. I know the official answer.

I can assure you it sure as f it shouldn’t have been me. I was 21 it was a month or so in to my 3rd trip as. 3 rd Mate.

A couple of years latter Mike Hazelwood became infamous. Yeah he had been drinking. My opinion the big thing, the Mate called him and he did bother to get his drunk ass up to the bridge. Still being drunk underway when you might need to be called.

Might as well have a cardboard cut out of Capt high liner on board.

This guy got fired.
I kind of feel,sorry for him. He has wrecked his life. I don’t feel sorry he got fired. I feel sorry for the unfortunate people who were sailing with him. He put thier lives in danger and betrayed any trust they put in him.

Sorry it was a bit of a rant about shit from decades ago and guys long dead.

Fortunately the world has changed.

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