According to the DOJ, engineers on the Caribbean Princess, Star Princess, Grand Princess, Coral Princess and Golden Princess by-passed the oil-water separators (OWS) and released oily substances into the oceans. These employees of Princess used a number of techniques, including the so-called "magic pipes" and running clean water past the sensors of the OWS to prevent the system from triggering an alarm. The engineers lied and falsified oil logs on the ships.
On the Caribbean Princess, the senior ship engineers dismantled the bypass pipe and instructed crew members to lie once a whistleblower reported the environmental violations.
These illegal practices on the Princess cruise ships took place over a nine year period of time.
Why didn’t the DOJ arrest a single one of the engineers engaged in the illegal practices? I have received many inquiries from people asking why no one, including cruise executives, will serve jail time?
Today, gCaptain reported that "two high-ranking ship engineers were sentenced to prison Thursday after being convicted of using a so-called “magic pipe” to illegally dump oil sludge and wastewater overboard from their ship and then attempting to cover it up." The sentencing involved the chief engineer and second engineer of the Ocean Hope, a Greek operated cargo ship, who were convicted of conspiracy, violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, obstruction of justice and witness tampering by a federal jury in Greenville, North Carolina.
Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division stated: “This case shows that polluting the ocean with oily waste and sludge will land you in jail . . ."
Cruden was also involved in the Princess Cruises investigation, where the misconduct involved more ships for a far longer period of time.
So why the difference? Princess Cruises and parent company Carnival Corporation clearly wanted to put this debacle behind them, so they apparently cut a deal which eliminated the possibility that the DOJ would be eliciting sworn testimony from any of the shipboard employees. The DOJ press release indicated that Princess engineers on the Caribbean Princess believed that the shore-side superintendent, like the chief engineer on the ship overseeing the cover-up, suffered from the “braccino corto” complex (an Italian expression for a cheap person whose arms are too short to reach his wallet).
So the engineers’ testimony would have clearly implicated Princess Cruises’ shore-side supervisors. And once its was proven that an audit of the vessel expenses would have revealed that there were no costs for offloading and treating the oily waste, the only issue is how many people in Princess Cruises’ and Carnival’s headquarters in Santa Clarita and Miami were involved in the conspiracy. The cruise executives wanted to maintain plausible deniability which would not be possible if their senior engineers were going to face prosecution and began pointing their fingers at the corporate offices. So Princess Cruises negotiated a settlement that included only a fine and a probation period, but no jail time for any of its executives or even its senior engineers.
The DOJ touted that the case involved the "the largest-ever criminal penalty involving deliberate vessel pollution." But the reality is that polluting the oceans will not land you in jail if you are an engineer on a cruise ship who can implicate the owners and executives in the lies and cover-up.
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Photo credit: Star Princess – Jim Walker