Coast Guard Sector Virginia took expedited action to suspend the Merchant Mariner Credential of a ship's captain on Dec. 4 after it was determined that he was operating a tug under the influence of alcohol during an accident that caused the vessel to become grounded.

The 56' tug Niki Jo C. drifted off course and ran aground outside the main channel of the Rappahannock River, on Nov. 14. The tug is owned by Ward Towing Inc., Deltaville, Va.

The Coast Guard, the Virginia Marine Resource Commission, and the Richmond County (Va.) Sheriff's Office conducted an investigation that included testing the crew's blood alcohol content to determine if alcohol was a causative factor. The results showed that the captain of the vessel was intoxicated at the time of the incident, with a BAC above the legal federal limit for operation of a commercial vessel of 0.04% as found in 33 CFR 95.020(b).

The suspension will be for 12 months, followed by a six-month probation period, provided that the mariner satisfactorily completes all conditions of his settlement agreement. If he fails to complete or satisfy the conditions of his settlement agreement, then the credential will be permanently revoked.