Drunk passenger faces 20 years after dropping cruise ship anchor

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A California man has pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to damage a maritime facility after dropping a Holland America cruise ship’s anchor into the ocean and faces 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Tampa, FL, federal prosecutors said that the man in question, 45-year-old Rick Ehlert, pleaded guilty to the charge almost a year later from his ill-fated November cruise on the MS Ryndam, while travelling from Costa Maya, Mexico back to Tampa. Ehlert was caught on a security camera breaking into a control room area and sending the 18-ton anchor into the Gulf of Mexico.

Authorities on the ship confronted Ehlert where he told them he was drunk at the time and that the anchor on the cruise ship was similar to the system on his 50-foot recreational boat.

Ehlert’s lawyer, Daniel Castillo told USA Today that Ehlert is guilty of “felony stupidity” but doesn’t think this should be considered a federal crime.

Luckily, AP reported that the 1,260-passenger Ryndam did not suffer damage due to the anchor not hitting the sea floor.

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