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A chief engineer and a second engineer both working aboard a Greek-owned and registered product tanker pleaded guilty today, May 7, to a series of MARPOL violations while their vessel was near a petroleum terminal located in Sewaren, New Jersey. Sentencing for the two engineers is scheduled for October with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey reporting the charges carry a maximum penalty of six years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

The U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Attorney’s office did not provide details on when the offense took place, but it reported the two engineers were working on a chemical tanker named Kriti Ruby (48,000 dwt). Built in 2008, the vessel is managed from Greece.

In court, Konstantinos Atsalis, who was employed as the chief engineer on the vessel admitted that the vessel’s crew had knowingly bypassed required pollution prevention equipment by discharging oily waste from the vessel’s engine room through its sewage system into the sea. Atsalis further admitted that he directed crew members to hide equipment used to conduct transfers of oily waste from the engine room bilge wells to the sewage tank before the Coast Guard boarded the vessel.

The chief engineer also admitted to concealing the actions by falsifying the vessel’s oil record book. The falsified log was presented to the U.S. Coast Guard during its routine inspection.

Second engineer Sonny Bosito also pleaded guilty to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. He admitted in his plea to concealing the discharge of oily waste into the sea through the vessel’s sewage system by causing a false record book to be presented to the U.S. Coast Guard during its inspection of the vessel. Bosito further admitted to directing crew members to hide equipment used to conduct transfers from the bilge wells to the sewage tank before the Coast Guard’s inspection.

For the vessel, it was not the first time it has had issues with the U.S. Coast Guard. During a 2022 expanded examination in New York, the U.S. Coast Guard cited the vessel for deficiencies including blockages in the oil discharge monitoring and control system and the oil filtering equipment. This resulted in a seven-day detention.

Last month, the USCG released its annual report on inspections highlighting a significant increase year-over-year in detentions during Port State inspections. They, however, noted it might have been an aftereffect of the pandemic’s impact on inspection regimes. During 2023, they said Fire Safety and Safety Management accounted for the majority of the detention orders followed by Life Saving Systems. Over 8,000  inspections were performed in 2023 with 101 vessels issued detentions.