Cargo ship hit passenger ferry near mouth of Belfast Harbour last year

A drunk captain has been jailed after crashing his cargo ship into a passenger ferry near the mouth of Belfast Harbour last year.

Miroslaw Pozniak was found to be three times over the alcohol limit when his 87 metre cargo ship Union Moon collided with a ferry carrying almost 100 passengers and crew. The accident caused more than £1 million of damage to the Stena Feronia ferry, the Belfast Telegraph reports.

David Smyth QC said Union Moon‘s course was clear, but she was about 20 degrees off course. “If the route that should have been followed had been followed by the Union Moon this collision would not have occurred,” he said.

“The collision occurred because the proper course was not followed and the responsibility was entirely that of Captain Pozniak.”

The court heard that Pozniak drank six or seven bottles of beer in his cabin after having a “difficult” phone conversation with his wife during which she had delivered bad news about his health. His barrister said that, until this moment, he had a “blameless career and no record”.

The judge believes Pozniak’s remorse is genuine. “It is a tragic end to a career at a stage in life that makes re-employment difficult,” he said.

Pozniak pleaded guilty to failing to keep a proper lookout, failing to navigate and causing serious damage to his ship as well as another vessel. He denied failing to follow the safety rules of his former employers and failing to implement proper watch-keeping arrangements. Pozniak was sentenced to a year in prison.

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