On 1st July 2017, new laws came into force in California, requiring vessels entering from international waters to deballast more than 200 nautical miles from the coast. The Californian authorities had disseminated this change to the shipping community by way of circulars, while the vessel’s P&I club had also published information. However, the change was not picked up by the ship’s managers and therefore the ballast water plan was not updated to reflect the new rules.

On 21st July 2017, the vessel was sailing towards California when the crew conducted deballasting operations beyond 50 but within 200 nautical miles. This was permitted under the previous regulations and had been done by the crew during the previous month. It was however in violation of the new statute.

The Master admitted to the Californian authorities that the crew were not aware of the legal change and the authorities issued a fine of US$ 280,000 against the owner. The fine was negotiated down to US$ 215,000.

The owner claimed the amount from the managers on the basis they should have been aware of the change in law and updated the ballast water plan.

ITIC settled this case.