Drunk Passenger Drops Anchor on Cruise Ship With 1,950 Onboard

Posted Nov 30th 2010 11:15 AMUpdated Nov 30th 2010 06:01 PM


A California man faces federal felony charges for releasing the anchor on a Holland America Line cruise ship while the vessel was at sea with about 1,950 passengers and crew onboard.

The FBI has charged Rick Ehlert, 44, with attempting to "damage, destroy, disable, or wreck a vessel" in the incident on the Ryndam.

In a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Tampa, authorities say Elhert was drunk and in "formal night" attire when he entered a restricted area, put on work gloves and released the ship's stern anchor.

Surveillance video captured the incident and also shows Ehlert, who owns an RV dealership in Thousand Oaks, Calif., throwing a life buoy overboard.

At the time, the ship was cruising from Tampa to Costa Maya, Mexico, on a weeklong western Caribbean itinerary.

The FBI says deployment of the anchor "could have caused significant damage," though the ship was unharmed.

Ehlert, who was traveling with his girlfriend, told investigators he has a 50-foot boat with an anchor system similar to what's on the cruise ship.

The incident led the ship's captain to sound an emergency alarm and muster passengers.

"We can confirm that, to the best of our knowledge, the information in the Complaint accurately reflects what happened," Holland America tells AOL Travel News in a statement. "As also noted in the Complaint, the Ryndam was unharmed by this incident."

According to USA Today, Ehlert was also charged with attempting to endanger the safe navigation of the ship and could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.

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Carnival Cruz lines is 100 percent wrong
People act like asses some times when they are drunk.
A passenger should not have this kind of access.

He should get comunity service and Carnival should get a big fine
Give me a break

December 02 2010 at 6:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Barney Hewitt

My wife and I were on board the Ryndam sleeping when this idiot put all the passengers and crew in danger in the wee hours of the morning by releasing the anchor and tossing a life ring overboard as the ship was making its way from Costa Maya, Mexico to our final stop in Tampa.
Apparently the life ring was spotted floating in the water and the captain halted the ship, lowered one of the lifeboats to retrieve it and to search the sea in the middle of the night for anyone who may have fallen overboard.
At first light, all passengers and crew were rousted from their beds and directed to report to their lifeboat stations so that it could be determined whether anyone was missing.
The captain made numerous announcements for anyone possessing info as to what had happened to please contact one of the ship's officers, but this inconsiderate moron was too cowardly to own up to his criminal actions.
Fortunately, the sea was extremely calm and no one was injured in the confusion that ensued as nearly 2,000 people made their way to the lifeboat stations with their eyes barely open.
This 44 year old moron should know that risky actions have potential consequences. HE SHOULD BE PROSECUTED TO THE FULLEST EXTENT OF THE LAW.
We feel that keelhauling would not be enough punishment for his unbelievably thoughtless and reckless actions.

December 01 2010 at 11:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This dumb guy is in a boat load of trouble and likely doesn't even remember doing anything wrong. How drunk does someone have to be do think it is a good idea to go into a restricted area and release anchor? Didn't anyone serving him think maybe he is too drunk for another drink? Why wasn't he flagged at the bar? Why wasn't the door locked to the restricted room? I'm very happy that all that came of this is a story that the other passengers can tell their grandkids.

December 01 2010 at 6:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

well at last the cruise liner admits a incident occured LOL well the man in question is not a terriost he was drunk and dumb but the real fault is that the security posture if any is real on a cruise ship when you are 13 miles off US waters it is fair game to do what ever you want and nobody in the world can touch you this is called international waters like international airspace US LAWS DON"T APPLY NOR ANY OTHER nation laws unless of course you are in there airspace then it becomes the law of that country a good example I lit up a mary jane cig yes the big 420 while back in the days smoking was allowed while flying on china airlines going to thailand via taipe from los angeles yes I went through the monkey hoops but could not be tried due to the fact that the matter occured over and in international airspace regardless who the airline vessele or craft it is redestered sorry for the misspellng anyway the main reason why so many crusie ships and aircraft are registered under a forgein flag is because there is no tax liabality from the US GOVERMENT if the matter happened in US waters or the ADIZ then the FBI can look into the matter and since this is an american citizen acting foolish the FBI CAN INVESTIGATE tO please mr and mISses tax payer and it gives them more training anyway when I was in the navy when peeps were more tanked then my car alchool can do strange things to a person it is a good thing he was not a marine and yes marines are good folks but when alchool is there hand or known possesion run for the hills because they will be some serious fools..... godspeed and good luck with this one LOL

December 01 2010 at 2:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Frank H

Where was the security? With all the problems happening on Cruise or maybe bruise ships lately( Years) you would think they would have some security. Maybe they were putting out an engine fire. Sloppy work. We used to cruise twice a year. Now we travel in the US by Train.

December 01 2010 at 12:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brian Workman

In days gone past, the culprit was hung from the yardarm, for a few days, after receiveing twenty lashes from the cat of seven tails whip, and his back then washed down with a bucket of sea water.

November 30 2010 at 11:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Rob -- I suspect all lot of the misspellings are due to typing errors. I personally do not have a spellcheck feature when typing comments. (Possibly I do but if so I don't know where it is or how to access it to check my comments to blogs) I do have a dictionary but do not always consult it as often as I should. You know...the heat of the moment, trying to get my point across.

November 30 2010 at 11:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

How about lashing him to an anchor and throwing him overboard?

November 30 2010 at 11:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yes, the guy is a creep and should pay I would write more but some nut out there is waiting to pounce if my finger slips off one key onto another.

November 30 2010 at 10:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jobe's comment

lol fair enough...

November 30 2010 at 10:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Does NOBODY out here ever check their spelling? Hard to take anyone serious who can't spell basic words.

November 30 2010 at 10:09 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rob's comment

Not only do they need their spelling checked, but their grammar as well. Re-read the headline slowly: "Drunk Passenger Drops Anchor on Cruise Ship With 1,950 Onboard". It makes it sound like he killed or maimed nearly 2,000 people.

March 08 2012 at 3:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply