Nippon Maru captain found to have excess alcohol in bloodstream

After passenger ship (non-cargo non-ferry) Nippon Maru (IMO 8817631) scraped a harbour pier in Apra Port, Guam, striking a US Navy fuel pipe as it was departing on December 30th, an investigation has reported the presence of alcohol in the captain’s bloodstream.

The alcohol level apparently exceeded the Japanese standard that prohibits captains from operating ships. The Japanese captain, who is in his 50s, told local investigators that he imbibed after the accident to help calm his nerves. On January 8th the government’s Japan Transport Safety Board appointed a special investigator to look into the accident. The concentration rate of alcohol in the captain’s bloodstream exceeded the local standard of 0.04 percent. The figure is equivalent to 0.2 milligrammes per litre in breath, above the Japanese standard of 0.15 milligrammes.

Ship crew are not obliged to submit to a breathalyzer test prior to sailing under Japanese law, but Mitsui OSK Passenger Lines requires all crew members to observe other crew members to detect the presence of alcohol.

The ship had 524 passengers and 224 crew members on board. Both the ship and the pier were damaged, but there was no fuel spillage. Nippon Maru suffered a hole on the starboard side about 1.5×2.1m in size, above the waterline. The USCG is investigating and the Nippon Maru returned to the Guam port and was docked. 1990-built, Japan-flagged, 22,472 gt Nippon Maru is owned and managed by Mitsui Passenger of Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan. It is entered with UK P&I Club (London J1 area group) on behalf of Mitsui OSK Passenger Line Ltd.