Shipping Problems

Shipping Problems


Main Characteristics

Most Company's policies, which should be applied to all of their ships, irrespective of flag, consists of three cornerstones :

  • Definition of Alcohol Impairment
  • Test procedure prior to embarkation
  • Procedure of random testing, initiated by shore management

Alcohol Impairment

This is clearly defined in the OCIMF guide-lines (Oil Companies International Marine Forum) and in the Blanket Declaration, which forms an integral part of the policy, as a blood alcohol content of 40 mg / ml or greater. No need to add that this level is minimal, and therefore very rapidly attained. Information available on board most ships illustrates the level of alcohol in relation to consumption.

Test procedure prior to embarkation

Prior to joining, seafarers lined up for embarkation should be tested for Drug and Alcohol abuse. These tests are not destined to find out whether a person has had 3 beers prior to testing. The alcohol content, if any, at time of testing is irrelevant, except of course in case where the man is absolutely stone drunk. The test determines whether a person is a consistent heavy drinker, quite beyond a normal social level. This is a serious matter and such a person may not be the ideal line-up for embarkation, especially on a tanker or gas tanker.

The results of these tests should be immediately disclosed to a Company representative who than should take the necessary steps. His treatment and hopeful recovery is a matter which concerns a doctor.

We do not feel there is, in these guide-lines any need to discuss at great length drugs, drug users and related problems.

Drugs are a serious menace to anybody's health, are marginally or deeply within the borders of criminality and present an enormous liability for the ship owner if discovered on board.

Evidently, a seafarer retains the right not to submit himself to said testing. That is and will always be his privilege. However, the company will not be in a position to employ such a seafarer any further.

Procedure of Random Testing

These procedures are twofold.

The Master can at his discretion make use of the available Breathalyzers to determine actual alcohol content at time of testing, to compare this with the definition of alcohol impairment.

However we want to stress that use of the available Breathalysing equipment should not be considered lightly.

This procedure may never degrade to repressive or disciplinary action. The company should recognise the fact that this equipment must be available to the Master but he must exercise the greatest possible tact and discretion and only implement this test when he has serious reason to believe that the crewmember is impaired by alcohol.

Furthermore, the Company should instruct the Master to organise tests, in cooperation with medically qualified personnel and / or qualified laboratories around the world. The results should be sent, as an entry into the ship's medical logbook, to the Medical Service of the Pool for all Pool affiliated seafarers (where such Pools exists) or to the medical service of the Company.

As a final point, it should be clear that this Policy should not be understood as a witch hunt of whatever kind, but as a useful and necessary tool for a safer navigation.


  • Prior to signing on, all officers and crew will be tested for possible drug and alcohol abuse as part of the normal routine medical examination. (Medical examiners should be formally instructed and they will advise the personnel department if the seafarer is fit or "unfit for duty", no further reason or explanation is to be given, results of the doctor's verdict will be mailed to the applicant only.)
  • It is strictly forbidden to navigate a ship or to operate its onboard equipment while impaired by drugs or alcohol. Any person found in violation of these rules shall be given a written warning by the Master. In case of repetition, the person may be discharged with reference to the given warning. (In the Blanket Declaration the owner warrants that he has a Drug and Alcohol Policy which meets or exceeds the OCIMF guide-lines and that he will exercise due diligence to insure that the policy is complied with. Breathalyzers will be put on board and can be used at Master's discretion in presence of an officer and a crew representative. At random intervals managers will instruct the Master to organise tests assisted by medically qualified personnel, results of such tests are to be logged in the ship's medical logbook and to be mailed to manager's Medical Examiners or the head of the personnel department as the case may be.)
  • On board sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages is the sole responsibility of the Master. (Liquor shall be kept in a separate room or closed to which only the Master has the key. The Master shall keep a written log of all sales of alcohol. The Master shall be guided by rules which meet or exceed the OCIMF Rules).
  • Minimum 24 hours prior arrival in port, narrow waters, in port, during reduced visibility or at the Master's discretion serving and sale of alcohol shall be interrupted. (This rule should also include the serving of drinks to officials, agents and other visitors. In certain ports it may be necessary to give away bottles of alcohol. This is always subject Master's discretion and such liquor should not be consumed on or near the vessel.)
  • It is not allowed to bring alcohol or drugs on board