Singapore-based Unix Line has become the latest shipping company to plead guilty in U.S. federal court to violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships related to unlawful discharges at sea.
In pleading guilty, Unix Line admitted that crew members onboard the 16,408 gross-ton tanker Zao Galaxy knowingly failed to record overboard discharges of oily bilge water without the use of required pollution-prevention equipment in the vessel’s oil record book during a 2019 voyage from the Philippines to Richmond, California.
According to the plea agreement, the Unix Line-operated Zao Galaxy set sail from the Philippines on January 21, 2019, heading toward Richmond, carrying a cargo of palm oil. On February 11, 2019, the Zao Galaxy arrived in Richmond, where it underwent a U.S. Coast Guard inspection and examination.
During the inspection, examiners discovered that, during the voyage, a Unix Line-affiliated ship officer directed crew members to discharge oily bilge water overboard using a configuration of drums, flexible pipes, and flanges to bypass the vessel’s oil water separator. The discharges were then knowingly not recorded in the Zao Galaxy’s oil record book.
A federal grand jury indicted Unix Line on the charge on October 24, 2019.
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for March 20.
The maximum statutory penalty for a violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships is six years’ imprisonment and a fine of twice the gross gain or loss derived from the offense.
Unix Line manages a fleet of approximately 42 chemical tankers as the primary ship management arm of MOL Chemical Tankers.
Earlier this month, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement was sentenced to pay a $1.75 million fine in Hawaii after pleading guilty to one count of maintaining a false and incomplete records, a felony violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, related to illegal discharges from on of its oil products tankers.