Intoxicated Cruise Passenger Places Vessel Safety at Risk

As a maritime attorney, I don't often hear hear about cruise passengers doing their best to jeopardize the safety of the vessel they are traveling in. Over the weekend, an intoxicated cruise passenger from California tried to do just that when he released the anchor on the vessel. The man was on a Holland America cruise ship, which was en route to Florida at the time. The man, 44-year-old Rick Ehlert apparently gained access to a restricted area, put on his work gloves and threw a life buoy overboard. Surveillance video camera showed him doing just that. The captain of the vessel quickly discovered what had happened, and sounded an alarm to gather all the passengers. The incident occurred on the 719 foot vessel MS Ryndam. The vessel has a capacity of 1750 passengers and crew of 580. At the time, it was on its way from Tampa to Mexico. The incident has been taken seriously enough by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to begin an investigation. Federal agents have already spoken with Ehlert, and he has admitted to his actions. According to him, he was intoxicated at the time of the incident. He has now been arrested on alleged felony charges of attempting to damage a vessel. If convicted, he could be looking at 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. This was a situation that could have easily turned into a disaster. Fortunately, no damage to the vessel was recorded in this incident. However, according to maritime experts, the situation could have easily resulted in the ship being flooded or even sinking.

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