The owner and operator of a tanker, Ocean Princess, have been convicted and fined $3 million for pollution violations, including the use of fuel that exceeded the maximum allowable sulfur concentration in the U.S.-Caribbean emission control area (ECA) and then attempting to deceive U.S. Coast Guard inspectors about the source of the fuel being used aboard the ship.
Gretchen Shappert, U.S. attorney for the District of the Virgin Islands, announced that the owner of the ship, Lily Shipping Ltd., and its operator, Ionian Shipping & Trading Corp., were each fined $1.5 million.
Three ship officers — master Stamatios Alekidis, chief engineer Athanasios Pittas and chief officer Rey Espulgar — also were convicted and sentenced for various pollution, recordkeeping and obstruction of justice crimes. They were sentenced to three years of probation and ordered not to return to the United States on a ship during that time. Espulgar also was fined $3,000.
The defendant’s conduct included using fuel that exceeded the maximum allowable sulfur concentration in the ECA. When vessels are operating within the U.S. Caribbean ECA, they must not use fuel that exceeds 0.1% sulfur by weight in order to help protect air quality.
Between Jan. 3, 2017, and July 10, 2018, the Ocean Princess entered into and operated within the ECA using fuel that contained excessive sulfur on 26 separate occasions, according to investigators.