On 7th March 2012, Miroslaw Pozniak, the master of the merchant ship Union Moon, registered in the Cook Islands, was outbound from the port of Belfast when he collided with the inbound ferry Stena Feronia
There were 51 passengers and 47 crew onboard the ferry and six people onboard the cargo ship. Fortunately no one was injured in the collision, however there was substantial damage to both ships.
The two ships were approaching the fairway buoy which marks the beginning of the main channel into Belfast harbour. As the Union Moon passed the Fairway Buoy, she should have altered course to starboard on to an easterly heading, but unexpectedly altered course to port in to the port side of the approaching ferry.
Captain Pozniak pleaded guilty at court in Newtonards on the 12th March 2012 to breaches of the Railways and Transport Act 2003 by being four times over the alcohol limit. At a later hearing he was also charged with failing to keep a proper lookout and to causing serious damage to his own ship and to the Stena Feronia.
Sentencing Mr Pozniac at Downpatrick Crown Court the Judge said:
“I believe that any sentence cannot be suspended. This sentence makes it clear that the following of the regulations, both in relation to alcohol and also in relation to the charting and proper adherence to accepted routes, is of vital importance. The ending of your 30 year career and this sentence effectively demonstrate that.”
“The Master was given a custodial sentence of 12 months on each of the three counts to run concurrently.”
Captain Bill Bennett, Area Operations Manager (Survey and Inspection) for the MCA said;
“This was a very serious accident. It could so easily have been a dreadful tragedy but fortunately there were no injuries or fatalities. It is a matter of concern to the MCA that misuse of alcohol continues to play a part in a number of maritime accidents.”
Source: MCA, June 1, 2012;