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Lawyer says ship captain arrested, fired over drinking was off duty
Seattle Times staff reporter
A Celebrity Cruises ship captain arrested Friday after Seattle police determined his blood-alcohol content to be more than four times the federal maritime limit wasn't on duty when the Coast Guard confronted him, his lawyer said.
"He's not saying he didn't drink ... He's not guilty of what they said he did," attorney Anne Bremner said. "He was in his quarters, not on duty. He was to be on duty at 5 [p.m.]." She also questioned breath-test readings.
Cruise-ship Capt. Periklis Petridis was setting in for a nightcap and a nap before leading the voyage from Seattle to Alaska when a Coast Guard investigator entered his room, Bremner said.
The Coast Guard says the investigator boarded the ship docked at Pier 66 around 12:30 p.m. to follow up on a previous safety violation involving a life-boat lift. By the time the Mercury departed six hours later, Petridis, 47, had failed four breath tests, was fired by Celebrity Cruises and arrested on suspicion of operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol, according to the Coast Guard.
In U.S. District Court on Monday, a judge set Petridis' bail at $100,000 and granted him permission to leave Washington so he can stay with friends in the San Francisco area while the misdemeanor case works its way through the legal system. Petridis, a Greek citizen, remained in jail Monday night awaiting an immigration hearing, Bremner said.
Those friends, Dave and Mary Christensen, said they met Petridis on a cruise in 1998 and have since visited him and his family in Greece.
"He is incredibly conscientious and a stickler for detail," Dave Christensen said. "This is just somewhat amazing he would be caught in this sort of situation," he said. "It just doesn't fit."
He said Petridis has been a Celebrity Captain for about six years.
A Celebrity Cruises spokesman said Petridis broke company policy because ship officers are forbidden from consuming alcohol eight hours before reporting for duty.
The Coast Guard says Petridis' broke federal law because his blood-alcohol content was higher than the federal maritime limit of 0.04 percent while on duty.
Hours later, when Seattle police tested him at a precinct, his blood-alcohol had risen to 0.181 percent. Bremner questioned that reading, too.
By comparison, the state legal limit for motorists is 0.08 percent.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or email@example.com
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