Drunken Ship Captain Sees Jail Time After Collision with Platform

At a hearing at Lincoln Crown Court, Zbigniew Krakowski was imprisoned for a total of 12 months for allowing his vessel to collide with an unmanned gas platform which led to the sinking of his vessel.

The vessel, MV Jork, was a 1922 gross tonne coaster and registered in Antigua and Barbuda. On the August 3, 2007, she was en route from Germany to the Humber with a cargo of grain. At about 1800 she collided with an unmanned gas platform in the Viking field approximately 24 miles off Skegness. At the time of the collision the Master of the Jork, Captain Zbigniew Krakowski, was on watch. The vessel began to list heavily and the crew abandoned the vessel. All of the crew were rescued and taken ashore by helicopter. Jork sank the following day.

On arrival ashore the crew were breathalysed by Officers from Norfolk Police. Krakowski failed and later, evidential, tests showed that he was approximately three times over the limits set out in the Railway & Transport Safety Act 2004.

Krakowski pleaded guilty to one charge brought under the Railway & Transport Safety Act 2004 for being over the alcohol limits and to another charge brought under the Petroleum Act 1974 for breaching the 500 metre zone around the gas platform. He was sentenced to 6 months for the former and 12 months for the latter, to run concurrently.

Subsequently two hatch covers were found floating off Holland and in the Dover Straits. Until recovery was affected these hatch covers constituted a major hazard to shipping.

In passing sentence His Honour Judge Milmo QC said: "The cause was due to not heeding the advice of the Chief Officer. You may have made changes but these were not adequate… The collision could have caused a gas cloud or explosion. The fact that there was no loss of life or injury is not mitigation."

Murray Milligan, Regional Operations Manager (SAR), stated: "It was fortunate that the platform was unmanned, that rescue vessels were close at hand to quickly rescue the crew and that the weather was excellent. I would like to thank all those involved in the rescue operation for their rapid and professional response."