Italian carrier, chief engineer plead guilty to polluting U.S. water
The U.S. Justice Department said Thursday that Italian shipping company B. Navi Ship Management Services and one of its chief engineers have pleaded guilty to deliberately polluting U.S. seas.
The criminal act was discovered after the 27,000-gross-ton bulk carrier Windsor Castle arrived at port in Houston on Aug. 17, 2007 and was boarded by the U.S. Coast Guard. Coast Guard inspectors learned that Chief Engineer Dushko Babukchiev had ordered crewmembers to dump oil sludge and bilge wastes into the ocean and had falsified the ship’s oil record book to conceal those discharges. With assistance from several lower level crewmembers, the inspectors seized the bypass hose and pipes used to dump the oil sludge, bilge waste and contaminated ballast water overboard.
Navi Ship Management Services pleaded guilty on Thursday to a two-count criminal information charging it with violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) and making materially false statements to the U.S. Coast Guard. Babukchiev pleaded guilty the day before to a one-count criminal information charging him with making materially false statements to the Coast Guard. Babukchiev will be sentenced on Feb. 15, and the company will be sentenced April 23.
The prosecution was handled by the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.
“Those who mislead the Coast Guard and take deliberate steps to pollute our seas will face prosecution,” said Assistant Attorney General Tenpas.