Ship owner banned from U.S.
Four corporations involved in owning and operating a fleet of bulk carriers regularly visiting New Orleans pleaded guilty Tuesday to pollution-related offenses, agreed to pay a $1 million penalty and are banned from doing business in the United States for five years under terms of a proposed plea agreement.
Stanships Inc. (Marshall Islands), Stanships Inc. (New York), Standard Shipping Inc. and Calmore Maritime Ltd., are collectively the owners and operator of the Americana, a Panamanian registered cargo vessel. Each pleaded guilty in New Orleans before U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier to 32 felony counts for violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, Ports and Waterways Safety Act and obstruction of justice.
According to the plea agreement, subject to approval by the court, the four corporations will be prohibited from further business in the United States during the maximum five-year period of probation. The plea terms also require personal banning of the owner of the companies, who is also a corporate officer in some of the companies owning or technically managing vessels, during the probationary period.
Of the $1 million penalty, $250,000 will be devoted to community service payments to help conservation, protection, restoration and management projects to benefit fish and wildlife habitats and resources in the Eastern District of Louisiana.
The government's investigation of the Americana started when a crewmember told the U.S. Coast Guard during an inspection of the ship on Nov. 29, 2010, that the ship was illegally dumping sludge and oily waste overboard using a so-called 'magic pipe' to bypass required pollution prevention equipment.
The crewmember provided the Coast Guard with cell phone photos taken at sea showing the use of the bypass.