Lie to the US Coast Guard at your peril

Mar 13 2009


dire warning about the consequences of deliberately lying to the US authorities to cover up malfunctioning equipment was given this week by a leading US Coast Guard official.

A dire warning about the consequences of deliberately lying to the US authorities to cover up malfunctioning equipment was given this week by a leading US Coast Guard official.

Charles Darr of the USCG’s office of maritime and international law said at the Navigate/IPTA chemical and products tanker conference that lying to the authorities was a crime in the US.

He said that any seafarer charged with lying would face life changing circumstances.

Specifically addressing the problem of oily water separators, he said that the so called ‘magic pipe’ bypassing equipment had become much more sophisticated and that some seafarers were now able to tamper with the readings electronically.

He cited the case of OSG, which was fined a record $37 mill on the back of evidence received from a number of whistleblowers about several pollution incidents.

Darr’s speech was made as news broke of a chief engineer pleading guilty in a Boston (Mass) court to falsifying oil record logs on board the 43,500 dwt Spanish-controlled chemical carrier ‘Nautilus’.

If convicted, he faces a six year jail sentence. It was alleged in court that the Spanish national served as chief engineer on board the tanker from January through March, 2008. During that time, the ship made calls in St Croix in the Virgin Islands and Boston (Mass).

Federal prosecutors said that in both cases he handed falsified logs to the USCG that did not mention the dumping of oily bilge water at sea.

In addition to a prison term, he could face a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release. He will be sentenced on 13th April.

Court documents claimed that the ‘Nautilus’ was fitted with a permanent bypass pipe beneath the engine room decking that allowed oily water to be pumped into the sea at any time.

'Nautilus' Madrid-based shipmanager Consultores de Navegacion was also charged with violating OPA 90 and with falsifying oil logs.

“Our hope is that this case will send a strong message to those in the maritime community who might try to circumvent our nation’s anti-pollution laws,” said US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Michael J Sullivan in a statement.

“It is necessary to ensure that the companies realise that violating our environmental laws will be taken seriously and will ultimately cost them more than legally disposing of the waste,” he added.



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