Captain of cargo ship that struck bridge in South Korea ordered arrested

Captain of cargo ship that struck bridge in South Korea ordered arrested Image: Straits Times

Authorities in South Korea have ordered the arrest of the captain of a cargo ship that recently struck and damaged the second longest bridge in the country.

The incident occurred on the afternoon of Wednesday, February 27, when the Russian-flagged Seagrand was departing Busan on its way to Vladivostok after having loaded a cargo of steel coils.

The 113- by 19-metre cargo ship struck a section of the seven-kilometre Gwangan Bridge at around 16:20 local time, resulting in damage to both the vessel and the structure. No injuries were reported.

The vessel reportedly attempted to escape but was intercepted and forced back into port by four Korea Coast Guard (KCG) patrol boats.

KCG personnel boarded Seagrand and questioned the captain, who claims he did not know how the vessel ended up sailing towards the bridge instead of in the opposite direction.

Investigators discovered that the captain’s blood alcohol level was almost three times the legal limit of 0.03 per cent.

A preliminary probe also revealed that Seagrand had been involved in a minor collision with a berthed cruise ship less than an hour before it hit the Gwangan Bridge.

Authorities have recommended the filing of charges against the captain including drunk sailing, damage to property, and fleeing the scene of an incident though they have yet to determine whether he was at the helm when the bridge was struck.

According to the KCG, consuming alcohol on board a ship is legal unless one is steering a vessel.

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