A boatowner caused havoc after drunkenly releasing the stern anchor of the cruiseliner MS Ryndham when it was underway

A drunk cruiseship passenger faces court after releasing one of the vessel’s anchors while it was at sea.

Rick Ehlert, 44, has been charged with attempting to “damage, destroy, disable, or wreck a vessel” after he released the anchor of the 55,000-tonne MS Ryndham cruiseliner. If found guilty he faces a $250,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison.

The Ryndam was carrying more than 1200 passengers on a cruise from Tampa, in the US, to Mexico when the incident took place. Close circuit TV cameras showed Ehlert, wearing formal evening dress, entering a restricted area at the stern of the ship at around 5am on Saturday, releasing the vessel’s stern anchor and throwing a lifebelt overboard.

Following the incident the captain ordered all passengers to muster on deck where Ehlert, still wearing the same clothes, was identified and placed in custody. He later admitted to the FBI that he had committed the offence while drunk, and said that Ryndam’s anchor system was similar to that aboard his own 50ft motor cruiser.