Russian captain of cargo ship sailing from Plymouth was so drunk he put lives at risk, court told
The Russian skipper of cargo ship sailing from Plymouth has been jailed for two months – after getting so drunk that his chief mate had to take over his 2,500-tonne vessel as it made its way into Fowey. Truro Crown Court heard that Sergey Safronov “put lives at risk” after going missing from the bridge of the Pur Navolok on the afternoon of September 27 when the harbour pilot boarded to help navigate it up the River Fowey and into the docks. The ship had sailed from Plymouth and was mooring in Fowey to collect a cargo of china clay ahead of leaving the port for Italy that evening.
It soon became apparent that Safronov had instructed his chief mate to navigate the Cypriot-registered bulk carrier. About 15 minutes after the pilot went on board to complete some paperwork, Safronov appeared in a drunken state.
Safronov, who lives in Russia but gave his temporary address as Tolcarne Road, Newquay, was unsteady on his feet and slurring his speech and having visible difficulty signing the paperwork due to his condition.
Cypriot-registered bulk carrier Pur Navolok.
The harbour master was told the port health visitor was not happy with the situation, and the police were called.
When they arrived Safronov admitted to police that he had consumed alcohol and mentioned that he had been having a drink with his wife to celebrate a family event. Safronov, who had an interpreter to help him in court, had pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to being the professional master of the ship while exceeding the proscribed alcohol limit. The ship had come from Plymouth and was mooring in Fowey to collect a cargo of china clay ahead of leaving the port for Italy that evening.
After Safronov was arrested, the court heard, he became argumentative and obstructive in custody and contended that he needed to be back on board that evening. The ship was travelling from Plymouth to Fowey.
He failed a breath alcohol test, registering 80mcg in 100ml breath, more than three times the 25mcg shipping limit. Jo Martin, for the defence, said Safronov was an experienced master of 15 years and had been at sea for three months at the time of the incident. Mrs Martin said Safronov is “very ashamed” of his actions and lost his job as a result of his conduct.
Mrs Martin said: “Mr Safronov has spent the last month in custody in Exeter Prison with no other Russian speakers, which has been a very tough and isolated month.
“He wasn’t in charge of the ship at the time and he has lost his job. He will be going back to Russia with no money or savings and has to support his daughter from his first marriage as well as his disabled mother.”
The court heard from Margaret Elliott, of the Fowey-based charity The Mission to Seafarers, who was speaking in support of Safronov. Fowey harbour
Mrs Elliott is the secretary of the Christian organisation which supports anyone at sea regardless of rank, gender, nationality or faith.
An emotional Mrs Elliott said: “We supported Sergey when he was in Exeter Prison. We will put him in temporary accommodation and arrange transport back to his homeland.
“He is very, very sorry that he did it. It has changed his life. He has lost the job he loved and he will be lucky to get another job at sea.
“Your honour, you have to realise he has shown remorse. We will take care of him and send him home.” Judge Simon Carr sentenced Safronov to two months in prison, the equivalent length of which he has already served in custody on remand.
Judge Carr told Safronov: “You have been a master for many years and have an unblemished record. “But you must have known how dangerous it is for a master not to be in control of his ship and although others were in command, conditions can change at sea very quickly and unexpectedly. “There is no doubt that the condition you were in put lives at risk.
You have lost your job and are stranded in a foreign country and facing an uncertain future. “You are very lucky that you had these people here to speak on your behalf and further custody at this point would serve no proper purpose. The amount you have already suffered as a result of your conduct is clear.”
- ^ LIVE: Breaking news, traffic, travel and weather for Thursday (www.plymouthherald.co.uk)
- ^ Most ponies at sanctuary were suffering, say RSPCA after owner banned from keeping horses (www.plymouthherald.co.uk)
- ^ See Russia’s equivalent of Plymouth based Royal Marine 539 Assault Squadron in action (www.plymouthherald.co.uk)
- ^ Police appeal for help after string of burglaries (www.plymouthherald.co.uk)
- ^ Police increasingly concerned for missing man Lesley Roger Irish (www.plymouthherald.co.uk)
- ^ Biker compiles videos of near-misses on roads (www.plymouthherald.co.uk)
- ^ Patient taken to Derriford Hospital after bike and car collide (www.plymouthherald.co.uk)
- ^ ‘Earthquake’ shakes Cornwall in early hours of this morning (www.plymouthherald.co.uk)
- ^ Refugees Not Welcome in Devon Facebook page removed (www.plymouthherald.co.uk)
- ^ Teen set to own the car she was born in – so long as she passes driving test (www.plymouthherald.co.uk)