Just one week after 10 crewmembers of the cross-Channel ferry Pride of Canterbury were fired for positive drug tests, eight crewmembers from the P&O Ferries ropax Spirit of Britain tested "non-negative" for the presence of cocaine or cannabis.
P&O administered on-board urine tests to 106 crewmembers on the Spirit of Britain, and eight failed. "None of the eight was an officer and all of them have been suspended whilst we await confirmation of the formal analysis of their samples," P&O Ferries said in a statement. It was not immediately clear whether the crewmembers were using drugs on board or had used them on shore before crewing up.
"Of the 13 individuals on the Pride of Canterbury who recorded non-negative tests last month, ten have been dismissed and the process will conclude this week. Two samples were found to be negative and both individuals have returned to work," the firm added. "We operate a zero tolerance policy towards substance abuse and any employee not complying with it will be dismissed."
An anonymous source told the UK's Daily Mail that the employees who failed their tests were not licensed mariners. "It is just the hotel service staff, people in the restaurant and bars on board, and some who help park the cars." Still, the source observed that "everyone has a safety job on board," and that intoxicated crewmembers are "a safety issue really - it is not good."
The failed tests are not the only drug-related news involving P&O Ferries crewmembers in recent weeks. On January 18, former steward Edward Tron and cook Mark Quilliam were jailed for using their positions to smuggle cocaine from Rotterdam to the port of Hull. Prosecutors said that the men earned about $75,000 per trip for six years. They allegedly used crew exits to avoid customs checks and hid the drugs in their high-visibility work jackets. Prosecutor Paul Mitchell told the jury that "crewmembers were not subject to the same customs checks faced by passengers and could therefore . . . more easily smuggle packages of drugs from Rotterdam into Hull, which were further taken on and sold on the streets of the UK."