A California man faces felony charges for allegedly releasing the anchor on a cruise ship -- an act that federal agents say could have sunk the ship.
According to an FBI affidavit acquired by The Smoking Gun, 44-year-old Rick Ehlert of Thousand Oaks was drunk early Saturday morning when he entered a restricted area and took several steps to release the anchor.
Ehlert reportedly admitted to doing it, and there is surveillance video of the incident showing a man wearing the same clothing Ehlert was wearing that night. The affidavit quotes Ehlert as saying that "he owns a fifty foot boat with a similar anchor system to the ship’s anchor system.” He also threw a life buoy overboard.
Fortunately there was no damage, but the affidavit said the act “could have caused significant damage." The anchor could have damaged the ship’s propeller or rudder, which “could disable the ship’s ability to maneuver” or puncture the vessel, resulting in “sinking or severe flooding.”
Ehlert was arrested on a felony charge of attempting to “damage, destroy, disable, or wreck a vessel.”
The Holland America cruise ship MS Ryndam has a maximum passenger capacity of 1,260 and carries a crew of 580. It was on its way to Tampa, Florida from Costa Maya, Mexico when the incident occurred.