Drunk Ship's Master Sentenced

A ship master who was five times over legal alcohol limit when he planned to set sail has been fined NZ $3000.

Parmod Kumar, the master of the African Harrier, pleaded guilty in Tauranga District Court on Monday to attempting to operate the boat while over the limit.

The boat was due to leave Tauranga on Sunday, but the pilot told Maritime NZ he was concerned Kumar was under the influence.

A Maritime NZ staff member asked police to test Kumar and found he had a breath alcohol level of 1229 micrograms per litre - almost five times the legal limit of 250mg/l.

He's the first person to be prosecuted under a section of the Maritime Transport Act that was introduced in October 2013 which requires seafarers not to exceed alcohol limits when performing - or attempting to perform - their duties.

Before the section was introduced, seafarers could only be prosecuted if they were over the limit and it could be shown that they were an undue risk to others, Maritime NZ said.

Maritime NZ director Keith Manch welcomed the sentencing, saying it should send a strong message to the maritime industry.

"This sort of conduct by the master of a vessel cannot be tolerated," he said.

"The vast majority of masters take their respon­sibi­lities very seriously but in this case it was clear that firm action was required."

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