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NZ court fines Master who failed breathalyzer test

Written by Nick Blenkey
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MARCH 23, 2015 — The prosecution of a ship’s Master with five times the legal breath alcohol limit has been welcomed by Maritime New Zealand.

Parmod Kumar, Master of the African Harrier, a 37,707 dwt, Bahamas registered bulk carrier, pleaded guilty March 23, 2015, in the Tauranga District Court, to the charge under s40B of the Maritime Transport Act – the first person to be prosecuted since a change to the legislation in October 2013. He was fined NZ$3,000 (about US$2,300).

The vessel was due to leave Tauranga Sunday 22 March, but the Pilot expressed concern to Maritime NZ that the Master was under the influence of alcohol.

After visiting the vessel and speaking to the Kumar and testing him with an onboard breath test kit, the Maritime NZ staff member asked the police to test him.

A breath test at Tauranga Police Station showed Kumar had a breath alcohol level of 1,229 micrograms per liter, almost five times the legal limit of 250 mg/l, and he was charged by the police with breaching the Maritime Transport Act, by being a master of the carrier ship African Harrier while he attempted to perform “designated safety” duties, while his breath alcohol exceeded 250 micrograms..

Maritime NZ Director Keith Manch said the prosecution and sentence should send a strong message to the maritime industry.

“This sort of conduct by the Master of a vessel cannot be tolerated,” he said. “This outcome is the result of good cooperation between the Port of Tauranga, the Pilot, Maritime NZ, and the police.

“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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