- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 10, 2002

A Danish shipping company has agreed to pay a $250,000 fine for conspiring to conceal a hazardous leak in the hull of an oil tanker that visited Baltimore and for failing to report emergency discharges to save the ship, the Justice Department said Friday.
U.S. Attorney Thomas M. DiBiagio said the company, D/S Progress, a ship management concern based in Copenhagen, also presented false log books to the U.S. Coast Guard to disguise the leak and emergency dumping of oil.
Mr. DiBiagio said D/S Progress was responsible for the Freja Jutlandic, an oil tanker that arrived in Baltimore on March 22, 2000. He said two crew members, frightened that their lives were in danger, secretly slipped a note to Coast Guard inspectors alerting them to the presence of the hazardous leak.
Coast Guard officers found a steady stream of seawater flowing into the ship through a hole in the hull covered by a makeshift patch. The ship required immediate repairs at a Baltimore shipyard, where a portion of the ship's hull was found to be a rusted, wafer-thin "cancer," according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.
Under a bounty provision in the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, U.S. District Judge Benson E. Legg awarded the two crew members half of the $250,000 criminal fine from the now-bankrupt shipping company. The crew members will split half of a $250,000 surety bond that D/S Progress was forced to post by the Coast Guard.
This marks the fifth instance in which a court has granted an award under the statute's bounty provision.
According to court records, the ship's captain, who is currently a federal fugitive, asked D/S Progress officials if he should report the emergency hull repair to the Coast Guard, as required by the Port and Waterways Safety Act. In a Telex to the captain found on the ship's bridge, a shore-based manager in Copenhagen responsible for the ship's safety said: "The temporare [sic] repair shall not be reported to the coast guard in Baltimore."
"This so-called ship management firm was engaged in deliberate mismanagement and the intentional subversion of the rules designed to ensure vessel safety and protect our environment," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas L. Sansonetti, who heads the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "This case sounds a warning to the maritime community that there will be no safe harbor for those who intentionally pollute and recklessly endanger human life."
In court, prosecutors provided a videotape obtained from the Swedish Coast Guard showing the Freja Jutlandic dumping an oil slick in its wake for 30 nautical miles only a month before its voyage to Baltimore in March 2000.
In its guilty plea, D/S Progress admitted it sought to avoid the expense of maintaining a safe and seaworthy vessel. The company also admitted it used false oil record books to conceal deliberate dumping of waste oil from the bilges and cargo tanks and to create the overall false impression that the vessel was being operated properly.
The company had employees flush clean water on a sensor designed to detect oil and limit overboard discharges of oil, court papers said.


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