March 23, 2001
Probation, fine for Neptune Dorado master
The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge William H. Alsup following a guilty plea entered on December 20, 2000. The criminal charges stem from numerous dangerous conditions found by the Coast Guard aboard the T/V Neptune Dorado, including inoperable fire pumps, oil leaks into the engine room, faulty ventilation systems and, most significantly, the fact that a significant quantity of oil cargo had leaked into the ship's ballast tanks, creating a serious risk of explosion.
Elmhirst Pte. Ltd., a Singaporean company and the ship's owner, and Polembros Shipping Limited, a Liberian company which is the operator and manager of the vessel, also pled guilty to the same charge in December 2000, and admitted that they too knowingly and willfully violated the Ports and Waterways Safety Act.
The vessel's former captain, Hristoforos Sotiriadas also, pled guilty in December 2000 to operating, and aiding and abetting operation of, the ship in a grossly negligent manner, in violation of 46 U.S.C. 2302 and 18 U.S.C. 2.
Daioglou was placed on three years probation and ordered to pay a criminal fine of $25,000. He is also banned from operating vessels in the United States for one year, and must go through re-training and re-certification before again entering the United States.
The companies were previously ordered to pay $2.5 million in fines and penalties. According to the Information filed by the U.S. Attorney, on approximately August 18, 2000, the T/V Neptune Dorado took on a load of crude oil in Australia for delivery to the Tosco Refinery at the Richmond Long Wharf in the San Francisco Bay. In the course of the voyage from Australia to San Francisco, Captain Daioglou knew that the ship was in a hazardous condition in that: the main fire pumps were inoperable; there were oil leaks in the engine room; there were leaks from the marine sanitation device into the bilges; and three of the ballast tanks were contaminated by a combination of oil, sludge and/or vapors, which created a significant risk of explosion.
Daioglou and the chief engineer reported some of these conditions to Polembros by way of telex during the voyage. None of the problems were reported to the Coast Guard, as required, when the vessel arrived in San Francisco Bay on September 23, 2000. According to his plea agreement, Daioglou admitted on October 6, 2000 to agents of the Coast Guard Investigative Service and the FBI that three of the ballast tanks contained oil cargo, sludge and/or vapors. He said that he had been very worried about the condition of the T/V Neptune Dorado, including the vapors in the ballast tanks, during the voyage from Australia to San Francisco. He admitted that the condition of the vessel, especially the hydrocarbon vapors in the ballast tanks, was so potentially dangerous that he attempted to ventilate the ballast tanks during the voyage to lesson the risk of an explosion.
Daioglou also said that he had communicated with Polembros before and during the Australia to San Francisco voyage regarding the condition of the vessel. When the ship arrived in San Francisco Bay on September 23, 2000, it proceeded to Anchorage Nine, just south of the Bay Bridge. On September 24, 2000, the Coast Guard sent inspectors to conduct a routine safety inspection.
When the inspectors boarded the ship, Captain Daioglou failed to report any of the hazardous conditions that he knew existed aboard the vessel. A Polembros port engineer who was present likewise failed to disclose any of the hazardous conditions. In an ensuing series of inspections, the Coast Guard discovered the hazardous conditions including approximately 500 tons of oil cargo and associated vapors in the Number 7 port ballast tank, which created a serious risk of an explosion, and which could have risked both the lives of the vessel's crew and anyone else on board the vessel, and the waters of San Francisco Bay. Further, the Coast Guard discovered that vessel's log books falsely indicated that the ballast tanks were empty, and had been empty throughout the voyage from Australia to San Francisco.
The prosecution was the result of an investigation by agents of the Coast Guard Investigative Service, FBI, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Melinda Haag, Jeffrey Bornstein and Herbert Johnson are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who prosecuted the case.
Harland & Wolff design unit wins NASSCO contract
Harland & Wolff has obtained two separate contractsfor these vessels; one involving steel design in the cargo aft and stern zones, and another involving outfitting design in the machinery space zone. These contracts are schedule to run until August 2001. The work is to be carried out using the TRIBON 3D CAD system.
Big Red boat sold to Spanish operators