The Russian captain Valeriy Panfilov, of no fixed abode, was jailed for five months on Jan 9, 2017, after pleading guilty at Southampton Crown Court to being in charge of the "Summer Flower". whilst almost four times the legal drinking limit.
He was so drunk that a Southampton pilot had to take complete charge of the ship and bring it into port. The court heard the 46-year-old had 96 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath - the limit is 25 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. Prosecuting, Miss Dawn Hyland said that at about 11.10 p.m. on Dec 17, 2016, a pilot at the Port of Southampton arrived aboard the ship, Summer Flower, which was carrying fruit and vegetables from Spain. The pilot approached Panfilov and introduced himself but the man did not respond.
After getting closer to the captain, the pilot noticed the smell of alcohol and that the Russian was intoxicated. Panfilov, who had received alcohol treatment in the past, did attempt to shout instructions to his crew but the pilot told him: “No captain, this ship is under control”.
The defendant then stopped trying to intervene. By 11.50 p.m. the ship was safely docked. Defending Robert Grey said there were no collisions, no damages caused to the ship, no injuries, no pollution from leaks and the cargo being carried was not hazardous. He added that Captain Panfilov, realising how drunk he was, handed over the controls of the ship to the chief mate who he described as able. The defendant, who had no previous convictions in this country and was of previous good character, had been at sea since 1987, since he started as a cadet, and had held the rank of captain for ten years. The court heard Panifilov that will never be able to work as a captain again because of this blot on his record. Panifilov had been in custody since the incident.
Mr Grey said Panifilov had been in custody since the incident and this was his first time behind bars. He had been locked up for most the day in his cell, in a place with no other Russian prisoners and no contact with relatives.
The court were told the Home Office planned to deport him regardless of the court’s verdict and that Panfilov wanted return to Russia.
Judge Nicholas Rowland said: “You were just under four times the limit - that is an extremely high level.
“You left your ship commandless because you were so drunk. You should have been in charge of your ship.
“The pilot had to take charge and do a job you should have been helping him with.”