Ship stuck at Teesport after Ukrainian shipmaster arrested for being drunk
A huge ship the length of two football pitches has been stuck at Teesport – because its shipmaster was arrested for being drunk.
The bulk cargo vessel Kohl 1 was supposed to leave Teesside for abroad on Saturday morning, Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard.
But Valeriy Velychko, its shipmaster – essentially, the court heard, a captain – was arrested shortly before it left port.
He spent the weekend in custody before appearing at court on Monday.
Through an interpreter he admitted being drunk while operating a ship, and obstructing a police officer in the execution of their duty.
Paul Doney, prosecuting, said that Velychko was found with 138mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath – more than six times the limit of 25mcg, which itself is lower than the legal limit for driving a car.
Mr Doney said others had been jailed for up to two years for the offence, and asked magistrates for Ukrainian Velychko – who has no fixed address, and travels around Europe on the ship – to be remanded in custody until an appearance at Teesside Crown Court.
Magistrates sent the case to crown court on an unspecified future date, but after hearing from defence solicitor David Dedman, decided to grant Velychko bail.
If he had have been remanded in custody, said Mr Dedman, the ship could have potentially been stuck at Teesport until his eventual release – which could have been “four to six weeks away”.
“There is a ship in Teesdock that cannot move without him, because he is the shipmaster,” he said.
“He is a well-paid professional master of a ship. He will return to court, as it is not desirable for a man in his position not to. We have his telephone number and we can contact him like any other of our clients.”
As he was released from custody, Velychko was warned by magistrates that he would be committing a further offence should he not return to England to face sentence at court.
After the case, a PD Ports spokesperson said: “An incident did occur at Teesport over the weekend but it’s being dealt with by Cleveland Police.”
The Kohl 1, which flies the flag of Panama and is 180m long, arrived at Teesport just after midnight on July 18, according to online ship-trackers