More reports on: Shipping, Tourism

Princess Cruises to plead guilty for polluting the seas

02 December 2016
One the biggest cruise lines in the world, Princess Cruises, has agreed to pay $40 million in penalty after it was caught polluting the seas.

The California-based company, owned by cruise giant Carnival Corp, would plead guilty to seven felony charges related to the polluting and intentional acts to cover it up, according to the US Department of Justice.

According to the justice department under a plea agreement, Princess would pay a $40-million penalty, the largest ever involving deliberate vessel pollution.

"Let's be very clear: Princess engaged in exceptionally serious criminal offenses," assistant attorney general John Cruden said at a press conference Thursday in Miami to announce the plea agreement. "It deliberately violated the international law regime designed to make sure that our precious oceans are protected."

The justice department added that five Princess ships were involved in illegal activity, and one case dated back to 2005. An investigation had been ongoing for several years.

The Caribbean Princess, one of the company's vessels, had been discharging oily waste into the sea for years through a "magic pipe" that bypassed the ship's waste treatment system. An investigation of the discharges began in 2013 after a newly-hired engineer on the vessel reported the pipe to British authorities, the justice department added.  

The ship was sailing off the coast of England at the time, and the engineer who blew the whistle, quit his job when the vessel reached Southampton, England.

The justice department further added that the vessel's chief engineer and senior first engineer, in an attempt to cover up the dumping, removed the magic pipe and ordered subordinates to lie to authorities. After the ship arrived in New York the following month, US Coast Guard investigators conducted an examination of the Caribbean Princess, but several crew members continued to mislead them about the illegal dumping practice.

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