Ship Operator Sentenced For Violations Of The Act To Prevent Pollution From Ships And Obstruction Of Justice
U.S. Attorney Kenneth A. Polite announced that MARINE MANAGERS LTD., a Liberian corporation headquartered in Piraeus, Greece, was sentenced today to a three-year term of probation. In addition, U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier ordered MARINE MANAGERS LTD. to pay an $800,000 fine and a $100,000 community service payment. MARINE MANAGERS, LTD. previously pled guilty to a two-count bill of information charging the company with violating Title 33, United States Code, Section 1908(a) for knowingly failing to maintain an oil record book while in port and within the internal waters of the United States, and Title 18, United States Code, Section 1519 for the submission of a knowingly false document to the U.S. Coast Guard.
According to court documents, MARINE MANAGERS LTD. was the operator of the Motor Vessel (“M/V”) Trident Navigator, a vessel that transported bulk cargo between various ports and places in the world, including the Port of New Orleans and other locations in the Eastern District of Louisiana. The Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (“APPS”), makes it a crime to knowingly violate protocols established regarding discharges of waste and documentation of same. On or about December 28, 2013, while the M/V Trident Navigator was sailing, the Chief Engineer instructed the Second Engineer to construct a bypass system (often referred to as a “magic pipe”) that could be connected between the vessel’s bilge pump and overboard discharge valve. The purpose of the bypass was to discharge the contents of the ship’s bilge tank directly into the sea, circumventing the ship’s Oil Water Separator and Oil Content Monitor. On or about December 31, 2013, the Chief Engineer ordered the Second Engineer to hook up the “magic pipe” and to discharge several metric tons of oily bilge waste from the bilge tank directly into the sea. The “magic pipe” was removed after the discharge was completed and the discharge was not recorded in the vessel’s Oil Record Book as required. The Chief Engineer additionally confiscated a crew member’s cell phone, which contained a photograph of the installed “magic pipe,” and caused that photo to be deleted.
On or about January 18, 2014, U.S. Coast Guard personnel boarded the M/V Trident Navigator while it was anchored in the Mississippi River near New Orleans, Louisiana, and within the Eastern District of Louisiana. A tip from a crewmember led them to the discovery of the “magic pipe.” The Chief Engineer was uncooperative and further obstructed the Coast Guard investigation by instructing crewmembers to deny knowledge of the “magic pipe.”
The actions of the crewmembers on the vessel were contrary to defendant MARINE MANAGERS LTD.’s written policies and procedures. However, defendant MARINE MANAGERS LTD. accepts that it is vicariously liable for their actions.
U.S. Attorney Polite stated, “Today’s sentence ensures that Marine Managers will be held responsible for the criminal actions of its employees who illegally dumped waste into our region’s waterways.”
"The Coast Guard is committed to uncovering and investigating regulatory and criminal violations that threaten the health of our marine environment. The successful prosecution of this case is due to the outstanding cooperation between Coast Guard Sector New Orleans, the Coast Guard Investigative Service, and the Department of Justice," said Rear Admiral Kevin S. Cook, Eighth Coast Guard District Commander.
U.S. Attorney Polite praised the work of the United States Coast Guard Criminal Investigative Service in this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Gregory M. Kennedy and DOJ Environmental Crimes Section Attorney Kenneth Nelson are in charge of the prosecution.