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The Master should make it clear to the crew that any breach of the Company’s alcohol policy will have serious personal consequences – including possible instant dismissal. Although consumption of alcohol in moderation is considered a social pastime, consumption of alcohol on board may seriously jeopardise the safety and security of the vessel and her crew.
The Master’s right to carry out breath or blood tests is subject to the regulations of the flag State and the terms of the crew contracts. This may at times be left to the Master’s own judgment. The vessel may call at countries which require the Master to document that breath tests have been carried out.
The Master should note that in certain countries, alcohol consumption during a certain period, e.g. 24 hours, prior to entering port, constitutes a criminal offence. The crew need to be advised of such requirements and warned of the possibility that certain national authorities carry out random tests for drugs and alcohol consumption. Positive test results will have serious consequences and, in the event of an accident, criminal prosecution, including the imprisonment of individuals, may follow. The Company may suffer financially and/or be exposed to liabilities, costs and expenses.
The consumption of alcohol for a prescribed period prior to going on duty is often, quite rightly, strictly prohibited under a Company’s alcohol policy.