The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected claims by Oceanic Illsabe and its parent company, Oceanfleet Shipping, which said that they had hired qualified supervisors and had relied on them to comply to the company’s "zero-pollution" policies.
The US Department of Justice had previously announced that the two Greek shipping companies were sentenced to pay corporate penalties totaling $2.7 million after being convicted for obstructing justice, violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), tampering with witnesses and conspiracy. Each company was ordered to pay part of its penalty to Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary in recognition of the threat posed by illegal discharges of oily waste to the marine environment.
Oceanfleet Shipping Limited, the vessel’s operator, was sentenced to pay a $1,350,000 fine and make a $450,000 community service payment to Gray’s Reef. Oceanic Illsabe Limited, the vessel’s corporate owner, was sentenced to pay a $675,000 fine and make a $225,000 community service payment to the reef. Each company was placed on a five-year term of probation and barred from sending ships to United States ports until its financial penalty has been satisfied.
The evidence at trial demonstrated that the companies maintained a lax “paper” compliance regime focused on avoiding liability rather than adequately training and supervising engineers. The companies failed to follow their own environmental policies and also ignored important red flags, such as the vessel’s failure to offload oil sludge for many months and its rare use of a pollution prevention device known as an oil-water separator.
Namely, the crew had been repeatedly using a flexible hose to bypass pollution controls on a three-month journey between Bangladesh and North Carolina in 2015, Reuters reported.