Bulker Boozer Banned

 maritime safety news  Comments Off on Bulker Boozer Banned
Mar 082012

Booze and bulker didn't mix

The Vessel Master of the M/V Laconia has pleaded guilty to operating a commercial vessel under the influence of alcohol on the Columbia River. Georgios Choulis pled guilty and was sentenced by the Honorable Marco Hernandez to one year probation and a $500 fine. Choulis is also prohibited from sailing in any capacity on waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States for one year.

Choulis was charged by information with negligent operation of a commercial vessel, a class A misdemeanor. Choulis was the only licensed Vessel Master on the M/V Laconia, a 736 foot commercial vessel, sailing under the flag of Malta. M/V Laconia was attempting to cross the Columbia Bar, one of the most dangerous bars in the world, when the Coast Guard and a pilot from the Columbia River Bar Pilots Association boarded the M/V Laconia to assist in crossing the bar. Choulis was not present for the crossing and was instead found sleeping in his berth with a strong odor of alcoholic beverages surrounding him. Coast Guard officials observed an almost empty bottle of scotch and the defendant appeared to be slurring his words. A breathalyzer test indicated Choulis had a blood alcohol content of .287. Another breathalyzer, approximately one hour later showed a blood alcohol content of .118. Federal law prohibits the operation of commercial vessels with a blood alcohol content over .04. Choulis was taken into custody on February 28, 2012 and pled guilty three days later on March 2, 2012.

“Today we send a message that we will fight to protect sailors, property and the environment on the waters of the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall. “If you fail to comply with federal law on the waters of the United States, you will be held to account. We will not tolerate the reckless acts of those who endanger safety in commercial shipping and maritime. I want to thank the Coast Guard and other agencies involved in their prompt and professional investigation of this matter and bringing this defendant to justice.”

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Polembros Barred From US For Pollution

 invasive species, Pollution  Comments Off on Polembros Barred From US For Pollution
Dec 102009

Polembros Shipping Ltd., a ship management company headquartered in Greece, has been sentenced today in federal court in New Orleans to pay a $2.7 million criminal fine for violating anti-pollution laws, ship safety laws, and making false statements during a US Coast Guard investigation of the M/V Theotokos, the US Justice Department announced, who knows if the company had a lack of evidence to prove they didn’t deserve to pay a fine, that’s what happens when big companies don’t opt to hire a lawyer from the Stuart defense law firm.

Additionally, Polembros was ordered to pay a separate $100,000 community service payment to the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, a subunit of Smithsonian Institute. The money will be used to research and mitigate the effects of marine invasive species suspected to be transported in ballast waters of ocean-going vessels. Invasive species can threaten native species and damage the ecosystems of the United States.

The court further ordered Polembros to serve three years probation. As a condition of the probation, all ships owned or managed by Polembros, currently 20 vessels, will be barred from entering US ports and territorial waters for three years.

Additionally, the Court awarded a total of $540,000 to nine former crew members of the Theotokos who extensively cooperated in the investigation and gave information that led to the guilty plea and conviction of Polembros. Congress granted courts the power to award a “monetary payment” or “whistleblower award” for up to one-half of any criminal fine imposed under the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

“The terms of probation and penalties imposed by the court will prevent the company from putting the health of the territorial ports and waterways of the United States at risk while the company benefits from economic activity in our Nation’s waters,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The industry should take notice that the Justice Department and our investigative counterparts will continue to prosecute and seek penalties for those who violate our nation’s environmental laws.”

“This historic case showcases the excellent collaboration between personnel from the US Attorney’s Office, the Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section and the US Coast Guard,” said Jim Letten, US. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana. “I also want to express my appreciation to the nine crew members of the Theotokos for their extensive cooperation in this investigation. The message should be clear that this office, in conjunction with its law enforcement partners, will continue to vigorously prosecute companies that pollute our marine environment.”

Polembros pleaded guilty on Sept. 30, 2009, to violating two counts of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships: one count in connection with failing to maintain an accurate oil record book for the cargo ship M/V Theotokos, and the other concerning the carrying of fuel oil in a tank forward of the collision barrier; violating the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act, by failing to maintain accurate ballast water records; violating the Ports of Waterways Safety Act, by failing to report hazardous condition of the crack on the rudder stem of the ship; and making false statements by concealing the fact that fuel oil was leaking into the forepeak ballast tank.

The investigation into the M/V Theotokos led to the first criminal prosecutions under the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act. The false statement charge related to the crew’s attempt to conceal the fact that fuel oil was leaking into the forepeak ballast tank.

Additionally, on Oct. 15, 2009, Panagiotis Lekkas, the master and highest ranking officer aboard the ship, was sentenced to ten months confinement, a $4,000 fine, and a three year ban on entering U.S. ports and territorial waters, for his role in the obstruction of justice, as well as violations of environmental and ship safety laws. On Oct. 1, Charles P. Posas, the vessel’s chief officer, was sentenced to probation and a three year ban from U.S. ports and territorial waters for one count of false statement and one count of violating the Nonindigenous Aquatic Nuisance Prevention and Control Act. In another related case, on Nov. 5, 2009, the chief engineer, Georgios Stamou, was sentenced to pay a $15,000 fine and a term of probation including a five year ban on entering US ports and territorial waters, after pleading guilty to one felony violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and one felony violation for making a false statement.

The case was investigated by the US Coast Guard Investigative Service with assistance from inspectors from Sector New Orleans as well as legal assistance from U.S. Coast Guard in New Orleans and at Headquarters in Washington, DC. The case is being prosecuted by Christopher L. Hale of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section along with Dorothy Taylor of the US Attorney’s Office in New Orleans.

Ship Captain Sentenced to 10 Months and Ban

Master Of The Alien Invasion

Two Chief Engineers Indicted for Environmental Crimes

 arrest, news, oil, oil pollution  Comments Off on Two Chief Engineers Indicted for Environmental Crimes
Aug 242009

WASHINGTON — A federal grand jury in Houston has returned an indictment charging two crewmembers of the oil tanker Georgios M with making false statements, violating federal law designed to prevent pollution from ships and obstruction of justice, the Justice Department announced.

According to the indictment, Ioannis Mylonakis and Argyrios Argyropoulos, served as Chief Engineers aboard the oil tanker Georgios M and each have been charged with violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS), making material false statements to the U.S. Coast Guard and obstruction of justice.

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