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United States v. Empire Bulkers Ltd., et al.

Docket Number

On January 19, 2023, a court sentenced. Empire Bulkers Ltd., and Joanna Maritime Limited. Each will pay $2 million ($1 million each) and serve four years of probation subject to the terms of a government approved environmental compliance plan to include independent ship audits and supervision by a court-appointed monitor. The companies pleaded guilty to violating APPS and the Ports and Water Ways Safety Act (PWSA) (33 U.S.C. § 1908; 46 U.S.C. § 70036).

Empire operated the MV Joanna, a Marshall Islands registered Bulk Carrier, owned by Joanna Maritime. Between October 25, 2020, and March 11, 2021, the crew tampered with onboard pollution prevention equipment, and falsified entries in the ship’s oil record book. The Coast Guard found that the crew bypassed the ship’s Oily Water Separator by inserting a piece of metal into the Oil Content Meter so that it only detected clean water instead of what they actually discharged overboard.

The defendants also violated the PWSA by failing to immediately report a hazardous situation onboard the ship. During an inspection, the Coast Guard discovered an active fuel oil leak in the ship’s purifier room that resulted from disabling the fuel oil heater pressure relief valves, an essential safety feature designed to prevent catastrophic fires and explosions.

Case Open Date
Case Name
United States v. Empire Bulkers Ltd., et al.
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Updated April 26, 2024