Bulk carrier runs aground in Willamette River as Captain faces drinking allegations in court

A freighter vessel broke free from its mooring on the Willamette River and ran aground Tuesday. On the same day its master admitted in court to being drunk while operating the ship.

The Russian captain, Valeriy Sharykin, 62-year-old, was arrested Monday evening after members of the USCG boarded the Maltese bulk carrier Adfines East to do a routine inspection, told Michelle Kerin Assistant U.S. Attorney. They observed signs that captain Sharykin was intoxicated, Kerin stated.

Valeriy Sharykin registered a blood-alcohol level of 0.181 promiles, the prosecutor told, over 4 times the legal limit of 0.04 for an operator of a merchant ship.

Less than 21 hours later, captain Valeriy Sharykin had been arraigned, pleaded guilty to the charge and sentenced to 2 years of probation during that time he might not sail in U.S. waters. He also should pay a US$1,000 fine to the court and US$1,000 fine to a community alcohol treatment facility.

But while Capt. Sharykin was in custody, his crew members were aboard the Adfines East on Tuesday with a full load of grain and ready for departure. That’s when the bulk carrier broke free from its mooring at Terminal 4 on the Willamette River. It is still not clear how it’d happened.

The 620-foot freighter vessel drifted about 1,5 nautical miles downstream and into the Columbia River, stated Petty Officer Curtis Daly of the USCG’s Portland office.

Daly told that the crew members were able to anchor the vessel and start the engines. But as the second-in-command attempted to bring the vessel back to Terminal 4, it ran aground on Davis Bar about a mile north of Kelley Point Park.

With the assistance of tug vessels, the bulk carrier was freed from the bar. The ship was later moored at Upper Anchorage, a spot just west of Hayden Island.

The Coast Guard is currently investigating the accident. Capt. Sharykin’s attorney, Kenneth Lerner, declined to comment.