"Stay ship-shape aboard ship" was the U.K. government
's message as it launched new alcohol limits for professional mariners. A crackdown on drunken sailors saw alcohol limits set in line with those for drivers in moves designed to make our seas and ports safer.
The new limits mirror those on the road and put professional mariners over the limit if they have more than 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. The testing regime is also the same as on the roads. This means that the police will be able to use the same equipment and follow the same procedures as they do on motorists.
Shipping Minister David Jamieson said: "This important legislation will make it easier to secure prosecutions of offenders. It is only by having prescribed limits and a proper testing regime that we can be sure of proving guilt or innocence. Similar legislation has applied to motorists since 1968.
"Our ports and shipping lanes are busy places where one wrong move can put lives in danger. Mariners, like drivers, need to have a clear head and I hope these new limits will make mariners think and not drink. I believe that by introducing these limits we will make our seas safer for everyone who uses them."
Today's announcement means the Government is fulfilling its pledge to implement Lord Justice Clarke's recommendation to introduce alcohol limits and tests for mariners. Lord Justice Clarke made his recommendation in his Thames Safety Inquiry and endorsed it in his report into the Marchioness Disaster.
Marine officials have been given powers to detain vessels pending the arrival of the police if they have reason to suspect that an offence is being committed. It is the police who will conduct the tests.
The law will apply to professional mariners on UK registered vessels around the globe and to those serving on foreign vessels while in UK waters and on un-registered vessels in UK waters.