In November of last year Rick Ehlert, a passenger on Holland America’s Ryndam, did something incredibly stupid. Drunk and in a mischievous mood Mr. Ehlert broke into the ship’s control room, threw over a life ring then proceeded to deploy the ship’s anchor… while the vessel was underway. Normally this act of sabatouge would be difficult to trace back to the perpetrator but, according to the FBI, it was all caught on tape. The FBI’s report further states that Ehlert “approaching the anchor, then touching the anchor, and then taking multiple steps to deploy it.”
And how did Elhert know how to deploy the anchor? Well he also happen to be a wealthy California businessman (he runs RV dealerships) and owner of a 50′ yacht which, apparently, has an anchor so large it uses a similar winch system.
According to his lawyer, Daniel L. Castillo, Ehlert has admitted to the act and the Tampa Tribune reports. “I guess he thought it was a big joke,” Castillo said. “He’s not denying he did it.”
Ehlert has been indicted for “attempting to damage, destroy, disable, or wreck a vessel” and attempting “to cause damage to a ship which is likely to endanger the safe navigation of that ship”, felony charges that carry a maximum prison term of 20 years, although the Tribune reports that prosecutors suggest they expect him to receive probation.
“He’s guilty of felony stupidity — that he is,” Castillo told the Tribune but there was no damage to the ship and no one was hurt so“Where’s the crime?”, asked Castilo. The lawyer’s official statement leaves out the “stupid” part stating; “”The deployment of the rear anchor of the vessel while underway, albeit a reckless and foolish act, does not rise to the level of a federal criminal violation.”
Cruise Critic has more details on the incident and some “expert” opinion but well leave this to the real experts, gCaptain’s experienced readers, to decide… so… is this just a stupid prank or a potential ISPS and safety nightmare? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.