A Ukrainian head officer of a commercial cargo ship has pleaded guilty to operating the carrier while intoxicated. The 51-year-old from Izmail, Ukraine, Vadim Humenyuk, pleaded guilty to being under the influence of an intoxicant while performing his duties as the head officer, or the Master, of the Rainbow Quest, a Gibraltar-flagged bulk carrier.
Rainbow Quest, a 590-foot long commercial cargo ship was preparing to head to South Korea from San Francisco Bay after stopping for refueling at the time of Humenyuk's intoxication.
"I appreciate the outstanding collaboration from the San Francisco Bar Pilots, Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. Attorney's office for ensuring safety on our waters, and protecting the maritime public, property, and environment," said Marie Byrd, US Coast Guard Captain of the Port, in a statement.
Complaint and arrest
A San Francisco Bar pilot is said to have reached out to Coast Guard Sector San Francisco Vessel Traffic Service personnel on December 10, 2019, in order to report about the intoxicated state of the captain of Rainbow Quest.
A sobriety test was conducted on Humenyuk on the late evening of December 10, 2019 by investigators from the US Coast Guard. Another test was conducted the following morning of December 11, 2019.
The Ukrainian failed both the sobriety tests. Following this, he was charged with operating a non-recreational vessel under the influence of alcohol in violation of 46 USC 2302(c), which is a Class A misdemeanor.
Talking about the Coast Guard's intolerance towards such misdemeanors, Byrd added, "The Coast Guard and our partners will not tolerate operating a vessel under the influence from any mariner, much less a commercial ship captain preparing to get a large cargo ship underway in San Francisco Bay."
Sentencing date and possible penalty
Humenyuk is set to be sentenced on January 3. He faces up to one year of incarceration, the maximum statutory penalty. He also faces a fine of up to $100,000 and an additional year of supervised release.
Not the first case of a drunk captain in 2019
While the Ukrainian captain was charged for intoxication while operating the carrier under his command, he is not the first to be found guilty of the crime this year. In February, the Russian captain of a commercial vessel, Seagrand, rammed into a motorway bridge in Busan, South Korea.
The captain was found to be allegedly above the permissible legal alcohol limit for driving the vessel when the 6,000-ton vessel crashed into the Gwangan Bridge in the port of Busan.