Jim Letten , United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Rear Adm. Robert Duncan, Commander Eighth Coast Guard District and Special Agent in Charge Donald G. Lane of the Coast Guard Criminal Investigative Service (CGIS) Gulf Region, announced the arrest of Yuriy Roshkalyov, captain of the motor vessel Leeds Castle for operating a commercial vessel under the influence of alcohol in violation of Title 46, United States Code, Section 2302. The statute, a Class A misdemeanor which is punishable with up to one (1) year imprisonment, prohibits the operation of a vessel while under the influence of alcohol. Roshkalyov was arrested and removed from the vessel on April 17, 2006.
On April 16, a New Orleans Baton Rouge Steamship
Pilots Association (NOBRA) Pilot, made contact with the first mate who stated that the master, Yuriy Roshkalyov, of the M/V Leeds Castle, was not coming to the bridge because he was "not well." The NOBRA Pilot insisted on seeing Roshkalyov. The NOBRA Pilot smelled alcohol upon Roshkalyov entering the bridge. The NOBRA Pilot refused to sail based upon his suspicion of Roshkalyov being intoxicated. The NOBRA Pilot left the vessel due to his concern for his own safety.
A Saint James Parish Sheriff's Deputy responded to the call for assistance and assisted the CGIS officer. A breathalyzer test was performed on Roshkalyov on April 17. Roshkalyov tested .252 on the Alco-senor 4. In addition to the test results, the investigating officer observed an odor of alcohol; noted that the Master's attitude was combative; his eyes were bloodshot and his speech was confused. The federal statutory law provides that a person operating a commercial vessel on the waters of the United States is considered legally intoxicated if his blood alcohol concentration level exceeds .040.
Roshkalyov , a Ukrainian national, is being held pending the outcome of the charges.
"The arrest of Roshkalyov emphasizes our commitment to the American people to preserve the safety of the navigable waters of the United States," said Duncan. "I particularly appreciate the actions of the NOBRA pilot in identifying the intoxicated state of the vessel master and promptly reporting it to the Coast Guard. The resulting response by personnel from Coast Guard Sector New Orleans, CGIS and the United States Attorney's office epitomizes the long standing cooperative, inter-agency effort that exists to preserve and protect our waterways and the free flow of commerce."
Letten stated, "I want to thank and commend the U. S. Coast Guard for once again, through their competence, dedication, courage and swift decisive action, continuing to guard the safety and welfare of the citizens of Greater New Orleans and the safety and viability of one of the greatest ports in the world. The arrest of this sea going vessels' captain is also testament to the high degree of professional dedication of the NOBRA river pilot who saved the ship, crew and the port from significant peril by notifying the Coast Guard and simultaneously refusing to operate the vessel and turn it over to the captain. In addition to Admiral Duncan and members of the U. S. Coast Guard and CGIS, I want to offer my thanks to the St. James Parish Sheriff's Office for their timely and seamless assistance in making this important arrest possible.
This event, although a misdemeanor under federal law should serve as an important signal to the nation and indeed the world, that thanks to the professionalism and diligence of the U.S. Coast Guard, those committed professionals within the NOBRA and local partners with the St. James Sheriff's Department and others, the Port of New Orleans remains a safe and highly protected critical avenue of international commerce, and one of the primary arteries carrying the lifeblood of our great country."
"This case should send a clear message to all mariners operating in U.S. waters that operating any vessel under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a serious threat to the safety of other mariners, the general public, and maritime commerce and transportation," said Lane. "Such behavior will not be tolerated and violations will be enforced to the fullest extent by the U. S. Coast Guard and the United States Attorney's Office."