Drunk ship's captain gets bail over sea smash charge
A captain charged with crashing his ship into a passenger ferry while under the influence of alcohol has been released on bail.
Miroslaw Pozniak (55) had been at the helm of his cargo ship before it collided with the Stena Feronia ferry, carrying nearly 100 people, at the mouth of Belfast Lough this month.
He was arrested a short time later. At an earlier court date he pleaded guilty to the charge.
On Tuesday the Polish sailor was released on £500 bail to an address in Whiteabbey. Pozniak is also required to report to police three times a week as part of his bail conditions and must surrender both his passport and seaman’s card.
He is now due to appear again at Downpatrick Crown Court on April 24.
Meanwhile, it’s understood he is also due before a court on April 3 as the Maritime and Coastguard Agency is pursuing a parallel prosecution.
Last week a court heard the captain could face up to two years in prison — the maximum penalty for the offence.
The mariner was also sacked by the shipping company which he had worked for, Newtownards Magistrates Court heard.
Pozniak had been in charge of the Union Moon — a 1,500-tonne freight ship — which struck the Stena Line Birkenhead to Belfast ferry.
The crash happened on Wednesday, March 7 at 7.45pm, around a mile-and-a-half offshore between Helen’s Bay and Carrickfergus.
The cargo ship — transporting some 2,000 tonnes of stones — was badly damaged, with the 22,000-tonne Feronia suffering a large hole in the side of its hull.
Although no-one was injured, passengers aboard the vessel told the Belfast Telegraph they were frightened and tearful, and some were in a state of panic after hearing the initial loud crash.
But many also commented on the professionalism of the crew, who quickly managed to restore calm on board.
The 51 passengers and 47 crew on the ferry safely disembarked at Belfast, with the damaged ship later docking at the Stena terminal.
At the time marine investigators said a catastrophe was only narrowly averted as the result of the collision.