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Alcohol detected in captain’s blood after ship hit Guam harbor

Alcohol detected in captain’s blood after ship hit Guam harbor
January 9, 2019

Nippon Maru, a luxury cruise liner, scraped a harbor pier in the U.S. territory of Guam as it was departing Dec. 30, and an investigation found alcohol in the captain's blood, the ship's operator said Jan. 8.

His alcohol level apparently exceeded the Japanese standard that prohibits captains from operating ships.

Mitsui O.S.K. Passenger Lines Ltd. said the Japanese captain, who is in his 50s, told local investigators that he imbibed after the accident to calm his nerves.

The government’s Japan Transport Safety Board on Jan. 8 appointed a special investigator to look into the accident.

The 166-meter-long vessel sustained a gash in the stern and some minor damage, causing the cruise to be canceled. The operator arranged flights back to Japan.

The ship was carrying 624 passengers and crew members, but no injuries were reported.

The concentration rate of alcohol in the captain’s bloodstream exceeded the local standard of 0.04 percent, U.S. authorities said. The figure is equivalent to 0.2 milligram per liter in breath, above the Japanese standard of 0.15 milligram.

Under Japanese law, ship crew are not obliged to submit to a breathalyzer test. Mitsui O.S.K. Passenger Lines requires all crew members to visually inspect each other to detect the presence of alcohol.

Nippon Maru is equipped with 202 cabins. It departed from Yokohama on Dec. 26, and was scheduled to return to the city on Jan. 3 after making stops in Guam and Saipan, also a U.S. territory.

The cruise was priced from 368,000 yen ($3,400) to 1.64 million yen per person for using a twin cabin or one with a double bedroom.

(This article was written by Shun Niekawa and Hideki Kitami.)