By Marek Grzybowski
The U.S. Department of Justice reported in January 23 that Empire Bulkers Limited and Joanna Maritime Limited, two related companies based in Greece, were fined $1 million each. The justification of the penalty stated: “committing knowingly and willfully breaches of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS – Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships) and the Act on the Safety of Ports and Waterways” by the vessel M/V Joanna (until 2020 M/V Eleni).
The owner and operator of a Marshall Islands-registered bulk carrier were convicted and fined after pleading guilty. The case was led by U.S. District Court Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon, who fined two Greek shipping companies $2 million. The Department of Justice stressed in a statement that the case was part of ongoing environmental enforcement.
“Our goal is to manage modern ships operating in the dry cargo markets. As managers of such ships, we are committed to maintaining the highest quality standards based on the continuous improvement of the safety culture” – Empire Bulkers Ltd. wrote on its website after the verdict was announced.
The shipowner also noted that it has a “Quality Policy”, which includes “compliance with applicable statutory requirements, international law and classification society requirements related to the services provided” and “operation of ships without accidents or incidents that could endanger the company’s employees, the environment or property located under the care of the company.”